Staff Reporter

Ranibodili: There were 48 girls, all of them tribal children, staying in the same building, with only a wall separating them from the khaki-clad policemen and the Special Police Officers. Not a single bullet was embedded in the wall.

The girls mostly belong to the Moriya tribe, generally known to be sympathetic to the Maoists. The three hours was nerve-wracking, though, as they cried out for help, hiding under their cots.

The minute the gunfire shattered the stillness of the night, their teacher, S.R. Thakur, closed the doors and took the little ones into his arms.

Remain calm

He helped them remain calm under the cots, as they waited for help that did not come.

Eventually, he brought them out only after the sounds of bullets and the explosion of the smoke bombs died out.

They were later shifted to the Somanpalli Ashram School.