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Bihar market closed due to Maoist threat

Posted by Indian Vanguard on October 10, 2007

Patna, Oct 9 : A rural market in Bihar’s Aurangabad district has remained shut for over a week after Maoists ordered its closure for violating a shutdown call by them.

This has badly affected small traders and businessmen and created difficulties for hundreds of people in nearby villages.

Tandwa Bazaar in Aurangabad district, about 120 km from here, wears a deserted look as not a single shop has opened since Sep 30 after Maoists issued a diktat to close down the market for one month.

The fear of Maoists in this rural area is such that shopkeepers, traders and businessmen refuse to open the market in spite of police deployment and promises of security cover by local administration.

Assistant superintendent of police M.S.K. Nayak said: “Police have attempted time and again to convince shopkeepers to open their shops, but in vain.”

“We cannot risk our lives. Maoist diktat matters more to us than government rule. Some of the traders opened their shops in violation of a shutdown call given by Maoists on Sep 23 so the entire market was closed down by them as a punishment,” a businessman who owns a cloth showroom told IANS on condition of anonymity.

“Unless Maoists issue a fresh diktat to lift the ban, we cannot open the market. It will create more trouble for us and anger them,” another trader, who owns a general store, said Tuesday.

The traders’ body has already apologised to the Maoists and pleaded with them to open the market in the festive season before Dussehra.

“It is a festive season for us. We have sent a message to Maoist leaders, agreeing to their terms and condition for lifting the ban,” the general store owner said.

But so far there is no information from the Maoists. “We have no option but to wait for the Maoist order to open the market because we are insecure and at the mercy of the Maoists,” the cloth showroom owner said.

In rural Bihar no one dares to violate Maoist orders due to fear of retribution. The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) with its strong network and armed guerrillas rules the roost. Even police and government officials say they fear the Maoists.

A few months ago, a government school in Aurangabad district had remained shut for over six weeks after Maoists demanded money for allowing the construction of its new building. It affected the education of over 250 students.

Aurangabad is one of five districts in south Bihar and regarded as a stronghold of the Maoists.

“Fear of Maoists and their unchallenged support base makes them feel like kings in the area,” a district official said.

In rural Bihar, complaints of Maoist extortion during construction and development work are common, often forcing stoppage of projects.



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