Today's Paper

Bihar seeks more reinforcements

K. Balchand

PATNA: Caught unawares by Saturday night's massive naxal attack in Jehanabad, the Bihar Government, is gearing its forces to cope with the situation. Chief Secretary G.S. Kang said on Monday the State had sought bullet-proof helicopters and extra Central forces to carry out combing operations.

At least six persons — two policemen, two naxalites and two Ranvir Sena (army of landlords) members — were killed when hundreds of naxalites struck at the jail, the police lines and many other places in Jehanabad. There are reports that some of the over 20 Sena men kidnapped from their cells in the jail have been "executed."

The attack not only exposed chinks in the police armour but threatens a fresh gun-battles between the naxalites and the Ranvir Sena.

Director-General of Police Ashish Ranjan Sinha admitted that there had been some lapses on the part of the police and that they did not move as quickly as they should have. He, however, said they had protected the armoury.

The State Government claimed that it was constrained by the deployment of forces on election duty elsewhere in the State.

Retaliation feared

The police fear that "executions" and "jan adalats" by the naxalites would have repercussions. They fear retaliation by the Ranvir Sena; Dalit localities might come under attack. That is precisely why the State Government had sent a report on the situation to the Centre and sought at least 25 additional companies of paramilitary forces.

Police officials claimed that at least 15 of the naxalites who had taken part in the operation had been identified. They belonged to Jehanabad, Aurangabad and Gaya districts.

Fearing similar action by the naxalites, the Government has decided to shift at least 25 top functionaries of the CPI (Maoist) lodged in the jails in Motihari, Bettiah and Bagha to the Patna Central Jail.

The naxalites killed a top Sena functionary, Bade Sharma, and the Maoists have made it clear that they would hold "jan adalats" and try those whom it had taken hostage and hand out "due" punishments.

A poster left behind by the Maoists warned of further action if the State administration and the feudal landlords failed to take a lesson from Saturday's action.

The Ranvir Sena has threatened to retaliate and avenge the killings. Akhil Bharatiya Rashtrawadi Kisan Sangh spokesman Shailendra Vatsayan, who was on the jail premises, warned that they would not take it lying down. Sena supporters took out torchlight procession in Aurangabad.

Probe panel

PTI reports:

The State Government on Monday constituted a two-member administrative committee to probe the naxalite attack.

Home Secretary H.C. Sirohi told PTI that V. Jaishanker, Commissioner-cum-Secretary of the Water Resources department, and A.C. Verma, IG (Railways), would hold the inquiry and submit a report in a week.

Situation under control

Special Correspondent reports from New Delhi:

Union Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal said on Monday that additional Central paramilitary forces had been rushed to Jehanabad, where naxalites struck on Sunday.

Mr. Jaiswal said the situation was now under control. "The district authorities have asked for 20 more battalions which we hope to provide soon,'' he said adding that there were only eight to 10 men at the prison when the CPI (Maoist) stormed it. "The main reason is that almost the entire force guarding the jail had been deployed for poll duty,'' he said.

Official sources said the Home Ministry was in touch with the Election Commission for redeployment of Central forces as there were two more rounds of polling left in the Assembly elections on November 16 and 18.

Security failure

Talking to reporters, Union Home Secretary V.K. Duggal said Jharkhand had also been alerted following the attack.

Asked whether intelligence inputs suggested a possible attack or was there any failure on the part of administration, Mr. Duggal said: "Obviously, nearly 500 cadres assembled in Jehanabad and the authorities cannot say that they were not aware of it. Somebody will have to be accountable for the security failure.''

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil presided over a high-level meeting in the Ministry to review the security in Jehanabad and other naxal-dominated areas in Bihar and neighbouring Jharkhand.

Mr. Duggal said one naxalite, who had been injured in the attack, had been taken into custody and would be questioned. He said the Home Minister had asked the officials to provide all possible assistance to the Bihar Government to counter the naxalites.

Helicopters would be used for airdropping troops in the dense forests where the naxals were suspected to having their hideouts. Mr. Duggal said an operation was already under way to smash the naxalite base responsible for the attack.

Recommended for you