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    February 2010
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Lalgarh: Jawans dump bus passengers

Posted by Admin on February 1, 2010

LALGARH: In a brazen display of high-handedness, a platoon of paramilitary forces in Lalgarh forced passengers off a bus and commandeered it on Sunday afternoon, leaving about 60 people including 25 women and children stranded for fours hours in Maoist-held territory, in between Lalgarh and Jhargram.

According to some of the victims, the jawans on foot patrol flagged down the bus near Bamal just 6 km from Lalgarh at 3.10 pm and asked the passengers to get off. The bus had travelled 55 km of the 80-km journey between Goaltore and Jhargram. "We thought a search was on. None of us dared to ask why we would have to get down," said Gyan Shankar Mahato, a resident of Lalgarh’s Orma travelling with his daughter and three-month old grandson. The passengers were not even allowed to take their belongings.

When the last of the villagers had stepped down, the platoon boarded and ordered the driver to make a U-turn and head for Ramgarh, 25 km away. The villagers stood dumb-founded. It took some minutes to realise that their bus wasn’t coming back. Buses are few and far between in these parts ever since the Maoists unleashed a reign of terror. If you miss one, you might nit get another the whole day.

Terrified at being left in a Maoist area, some of them got in touch with local Congress and Trinamool Congress leaders who informed West Midnapore SP Manoj Verma.

The bus was traced to Ramgarh and returned to the spot around 4.30 pm but the villagers woes weren’t over yet. The driver refused to go any further and stopped at Dherua, again a Maoist stronghold, some 12 km from Jhargram.

It was 6 pm and darkness had descended. No amount of pleading would do. The driver apparently said he had had enough for a day.

The passengers finally got hold off some Trekkers and lorries to reach Jhargram. "I missed the train from Jhargram and will have to stay overnight at the platform," said Kalicharan Mirdha, whose train was at 5.30 pm.

West Midnapore superintendent of police Manoj Verma, however, denied the incident, saying, "This just cannot happen." TOI


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