Fear of Maoists and police have forced at least 3,059 villages in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, to refuse telephone connections.
The facilities would only arouse the rebels' suspicions about them being police informers, the villagers apprehend. And the police too would use the phone lines to extract information, they fear.
Maoists have gained a toehold in 69 districts in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, according to recent media reports. Telephone exchanges are soft targets for them. At least 270 telephone exchanges have already been attacked so far; the highest being 265 in Andhra Pradesh.
Such frequent strikes by the rebels have caused damages between Rs 30,000 and Rs 5,000,000, according to official reports. But the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd is unfazed. The organisation is now gearing up to implement the Union government's much-hyped programme of installing at least one telephone in each village panchayat by November 2007.
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