A daylong strike called by the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) crippled normal life in villages in southern Chhattisgarh on Monday. The strike was called to protest the killing of 15 people in a gun battle with the police earlier this month.
Commuters were stranded for several hours in various areas of the Bastar region, where passenger and commercial vehicles were off roads in Bijapur of Dantewada district and some areas of Kanker and Narayanpur districts. The Maoists have their bases in the forests of southern Chhattisgarh.
Police sources said the CPI-Maoist has put wooden logs in dozens of places in the state and national highways. The insurgents have asked people to remain indoors.
The lone passenger train and goods trains carrying iron ore for the public sector firm National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) from Dantewada's Bailadila have been cancelled for the day fearing Maoist attacks.
Inspector General of Police AN Upadhyay told IANS: "Normal life has been hit in selective areas. Security has always been on top gear in restive Bastar; we have further stepped up security at pockets vulnerable to Maoist attacks."
Leftist insurgents have called the strike to protest killings of at least 15 Maoists by police in a gun battle January 8. The insurgents have termed the battle a planned killing of innocent villagers.
Banners and pamphlets pasted by rebels in Bastar said their strike was also against economic policies of the central and Chhattisgarh governments.
The strike coincides with the visit of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram who is scheduled to preside over a meeting on Monday evening to take stock of Maoist situation in the state that has witnessed over 1,250 casualties in Maoist violence since 2004.
Chief Minister Raman Singh, state Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar, Chief Secretary P Joy Oommen, Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan and a host of senior officials of paramilitary forces deployed in the state will attend the meet to firm up strategy to tackle violence in Chhattisgarh.