Maoist ‘blockade’ hits rail, road traffic in Chhattisgarh


Bastar (Chhattisgarh) : Rail and road traffic was badly hit in the southern Bastar region of Chhattisgarh Wednesday as the "economic blockade" imposed by Maoist guerrillas to protest the setting up of special economic zones (SEZs) entered its second day.

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Public transport remained off the roads and the movement of iron ore from Dantewada district's Bailadila hills to Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh was halted, Girdhari Nayak, Inspector General of Police (Maoist operation), told IANS.

The K.K. railway line from Kirandul in Dantewada to Kothavalasa in Andhra Pradesh, used for shipping iron ore, remained inactive for the third consecutive day, as rebels had damaged the track at several points.

The outlawed Maoists have blocked interior pockets of Bastar, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Dantewada and Kanker districts by placing wooden logs on the roads. The guerrillas virtually run their own de facto government in these parts of the state.

The worst hit pockets are NH-221 from Jagdalpur in Bastar to Konta via Sukma and NH-16, that passes through Geedam in Dantewada via Bhopalpattanam in Bijapur.

"Heavy security arrangements at vital installations like highways, railway tracks and mining points in Bastar have thwarted Maoist bids to trigger blasts," Nayak said.

The two-day "economic blockade" is also being imposed, though with varying responses, in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, where the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) wields considerable influence.

The CPI-Maoist is bitterly opposed to the construction of SEZs, saying these are coming up on land taken from farmers and are being given away to industry at throwaway prices.

Thousands of people have been killed in India since the leftist radicals began their insurgency in 1967 from a village in West Bengal. Their activities have spread to other states, with mineral-rich Chhattisgarh being the worst affected.