Maoists on Monday torched at least 35 heavy vehicles on the busy National Highway 2 in Bihar's Gaya district to enforce a two-day shutdown to protest the killing of a female commander, police said.
At least 200 heavily armed Maoists virtually ran riot act and brought the traffic to a grinding halt on the NH 2, also known as the Grand Trunk road, which links New Delhi to Kolkata in the east.
Reports said the Maoist rampage began around 12.30am Monday near Vishunpura village under Amas police station of Gaya, about 130 km southwest of Patna, where the ultras forced drivers to stop their vehicles, withdrew diesel from their tanks and used the fuel to set the vehicles on fire.
Eyewitnesses said that Maoists ordered the truckers and drivers of other vehicles to leave the spot. They also terrorized locals to go into hiding.
Confirming the incident, DIG Magadh Range Shalin said police officials with reinforcement had rushed to the scene soon after getting information about the Maoist attack.
A police team headed by Gaya SSP Manu Maharaj, ASP (operation) and DSP (Sherghati) was the first to reach the spot. They tried to douse the flames and clear the road to restore traffic movement.
But, as a large number of vehicles were ablaze, the task was not easy.
Sources said ADG (law and order) Alok Raj was also among those who reached the area. DGP PK Thakur was on his way to the spot till reports last came in.
There has, however, been no report of any casualty.
Watch: Maoists set 32 vehicles on fire in Bihar after encounter of woman cadre
Till the filing of this report, both flanks of the GT Road were blocked and fire raged from a fleet of heavy vehicles parked on the two sides of the highway.
Owing to the blockage, a long line of commercial and private vehicles were left stranded on the otherwise extremely busy road.
This is not the first incident of its kind on the NH 2. About 4 years ago, Maoists had attacked a toll plaza at Amas, inflicted heavy damage apart and looted at least 16 weapons from the security guards deployed on the plaza.
Local MLA Binod Kumar and the Gaya MP Hari Manjhi blamed the incident on inadequate policing.
Police officials, however, attributed the incident to the desperation of the Maoists who are at the receiving end of the ongoing anti-Maoist operation conducted by the joint team of Central Reserve Police Force (CPRF), State Task Force (STF) and the district police.
Elsewhere during the bandh, Maoists pasted posters and banners at Imamganj in Gaya threatening to punish CRPF and police officials in 'jan adalat' to be held by them.
The Maoists also torched two vehicles and blew up mobile towers in the Panapur locality of Saran district in north Bihar.