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Maoist strike hits life, iron ore shipment in Chhattisgarh

Raipur, July 7 (Calcutta Tube) The two-day shutdown by the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) that began Wednesday hit life in Chhattisgarh’s vast interiors, particularly in Bastar region where iron ore transportation was hindered.

The strike began amid fear of violence and tight security arrangements in the 40,000 sq km Maoist stronghold of Bastar where weekly markets wore a deserted look and transporters kept their vehicles off roads even from national highways fearing attacks, an official at the police headquarters here told IANS.

‘Rebels have placed heavy wooden logs in jungle roads of Bijapur, Kanker and Dantewada,’ he said.

Key roads in Bastar such as the Narayanpur-Orchha road in Narayanpur district, Pakhanjoor and Bhanupratappur in Kanker district were blocked. Buses were not plying on National Highway 221 in Dantewada and National Highway 16 in Bijapur.

Transportation of iron ore by India’s largest iron ore producer and exporter in public sector, NMDC Ltd, from its Bailadila facilities in Dantewada district was affected as rail racks were not available.

Bastar region comprises the five districts of Narayanpur, Kanker, Bastar, Dantewada and Bijapur. It is considered the nerve centre of Maoist militancy in India with guerrillas running a parallel government in its forested interiors since the late 1980s. In over 500 villages, even police can’t dare to enter.

However the strike had no impact in urban areas.

‘Security has been tightened in an around government buildings, schools and hospitals in Bastar region. So far no violence has been reported from anywhere,’ said T.J. Longkumer, inspector general of police, Bastar range.

The shutdown also impacted life in certain pockets of the state’s western Rajnandgaon district bordering Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district and in Raipur district’s forested pockets of Gariaband-Mainpur-Devbhog bordering Orissa.

Maoists have called the strike Wednesday and Thursday to protest the killing of their top leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad in an alleged shootout July 2 in Andhra Pradesh’s Adilabad district.

Chhattisgarh has been rocked by a series of blasts and gunfights in 2010. In the past three months, the state witnessed killings of 150 people, mostly security personnel.

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