Maoist strike spurs tight security for eclipse in Bihar | india | Hindustan Times
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Maoist strike spurs tight security for eclipse in Bihar

india Updated: Jul 21, 2009 13:39 IST

IANS
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A tight security cover is in place in this small Bihar village in view of a strike called by Maoists on Wednesday, when hundreds of scientists and tourists from across the world will converge in Taregna to watch the century's longest total solar eclipse.

The state government has handed over the security to the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in view of a strike called by Maoists in Bihar and four other states on Wednesday to protest the rising prices of fuel and essential commodities.

Scientists, researchers and astro-tourists from different parts of the world are expected to start arriving in the village, about 35 km from the state capital Patna, on Tuesday evening ahead of the total solar eclipse on Wednesday. These include scientists from US space agency NASA, Britain, Italy, Poland, Germany, France, as well as from the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

"Watching a total solar eclipse at Taregna will not be free from the fear of Maoists because this area falls under the Maoist-affected Masaurih sub-division, a lawless area until a few years ago," said Vinod Singh , a businessman at Masaurih bazaar.

And the government is taking the possibility of Maoist violence seriously.

"The government has made tight security arrangements to counter the Maoist threat," said Patna District Magistrate Jitendra Kumar Sinha.

Patna Special Superintendent of Police R Mallar Vizhi told IANS that adequate security personnel have been deployed in Taregna to provide safety and security to scientists, researchers and tourists coming from outside.

"We will not take any chance. The CRPF deployed at Taregna will be assisted by Bihar Police Military Police and Special Auxiliary Police," Vizhi said.

The official added that a four-tier security ring would be thrown around the area by Wednesday, admitting that Masaurih was a Maoist-affected area.

Intensive security arrangements were in place at a newly constructed referral hospital, where main arrangements are being made for scientists, experts and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to watch the eclipse.

"Limited number of passes have been provided by the district authorities to watch the total solar eclipse from the rooftop of the hospital along with scientists," a district official said.

Security personnel have also been deployed on the road as well as along railway links between Patna and Taregna.

"We have alerted the railways to be on constant vigil on the Patna-Gaya rail section as well as police stations on the road link," said Additional Director General of Police(police headquarters) Neelmani.

The total eclipse, starting a little after sunrise, is expected to last three minutes and 48 seconds at Taregna. According to the NASA forecast based on satellite imagery, the sky over the region is likely to be less cloudy than others along the path of the total solar eclipse. So it may offer one of the best views of the celestial phenomenon.

Taregna already has an ancient connection with astronomy, having been one of the two places used by 6th century Indian astronomer-mathematician Aryabhatta for his celestial studies. It is believed he was the first to announce that the earth revolves around the sun after his marathon research in an observatory at Taregna.