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The 24-hour Jharkhand bandh call given by the CPI (Maoist) witnessed a gun battle between the PLFI cadres and the security forces in the wee hours of Sunday. Though both the left-wing outfits do not have links anymore, it is believed that the PLFI is a breakaway faction of the Maoists.
The two-hour-long exchange of fire, which occurred at Bangur forest in Dikilata village under the Bandgaon police station limits in West Singhbhum, ended with the ultras retreating into the forest, the police said. West Singhbhum SP Ashutosh Shekhar said the search operation has been intensified in and around the area. A rifle, five live bullets, Naxal literature and items of daily use have been found on the site.
The security forces, comprising the CRPF, the Jharkhand Jaguar (JJ), the Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP) and the district police started patrolling the forest upon receiving inputs about the movement of the ultras. The PLFI then opened fire at the armed personnel, necessitating retaliation by the security forces in self-defence. Over 30 rounds of intermittent firing took place between the ultras and the forces, SP Shekhar said.
Notably, with 10 CoBRA jawans being hurt in the three separate IED blasts that occurred at different locations under the Tonto police station limits in Chaibasa on January 11, January 12 and January 20, the SP said the fight against the banned outfits will not stop. "Security forces are conducting extensive search operations in the affected areas daily to destroy hidden explosives and nab the extremists," he added.
Meanwhile, the bandh had a mixed effect in the three districts of the Kolhan division with markets and transport services in the rural areas affected, while the urban circle remained mostly normal. The 'haat bazaar' in the rural hamlets of Manoharpur, Kiriburu, Gua, Tonto, Babdgoan, Sonua in West Singhbhum; Ichagarh, Tiruldih, Nimdih, Dalbhanga, Kuchai in Seraikela-Kharsawan; and Dumaria, Gorabanda, Dhalbhumgarh, and Syamsunderpur in East Singhbhum remained shut.
Further, the long-route inter-district passenger bus service was also affected in the rural blocks. Many private passenger buses on the Ranchi-Chakradharpur National Highway remained off the road, private bus owner Vijay Singh said.
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