Sunday, December 23, 2007

Maoists shift base to north Bihar?

24 Dec 2007, 0225 hrs IST,TNN

PATNA: Maoists seem to have crossed the Ganga. Naxal-hit districts of south Bihar like Jehanabad, Aurangabad and Bhojpur are no longer in news. For, all the action seems to have shifted to districts in north Bihar, particularly those located near the Indo-Nepal border.

Policemen are complaining that Naxalites take advantage of the porous border. "During the last congress of the Maoists, they decided to focus on three ‘Us' (Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Uttar Bihar)," IG (operations) S K Bharadwaj said. He, however, added there was no evidence of Nepal Maoists participating in the extremist activities in Bihar. "But the state's Maoists can use the porous border for escaping," he said.

On Friday, six live bombs of the Maoists were found in Sheohar district. Earlier on December 19, a fierce encounter took place in East Champaran between the police and Maoists, leaving one assistant commandant of CRPF and two constables dead. "The police personnel died because they were not cautious enough and were not wearing bulletproof jackets," Bharadwaj said.

The IG said the police are in the know of the arms and ammunitions the ultras possess. Recently, the Naxalites targeted a mukhiya's house in Vaishali district. The Naxalites also demonstrated their strength at Turki Bazaar in Muzaffarpur in November.

The state saw 87 Naxal-related incidents between July and December this year against 63 during the corresponding period in 2006, according to official figures made available by the state police headquarters here. An overwhelming number of these incidents have taken place in north Bihar.

The state police claim the Naxalites' efforts to strengthen their organisation in north Bihar have met with severe jolts this year with the arrest of several top-ranking leaders of the CPI (Maoist). Altogether 55 self-styled zonal and area commanders of the outlawed outfit were arrested and a large quantity of explosives, firearms and cartridges seized from their hideouts during the past six months.

Official sources said police consider the arrest of senior Naxal leader Lal Babu Sahni alias Bhaskarji and seizure of high-quality explosive devices and other materials from Patna recently, a major achievement. The police also seized 500 kg of explosives allegedly brought from Andhra Pradesh in Gaya district last month.

In about 171 incidents of Naxal-related violence in 29 of the 38 districts of the state during the year, 39 people lost their lives. Police arrested 553 Naxalites, including front-ranking leaders Tusharkant Bhattacharya, Ajay Kanu, Yogesh Yadav and Lal Babu Sahni.

Senior police officials talked about 19,000-odd vacancies of constables in the state.

Speedy police modernisation and more policemen will help police meet the Naxal challenge in north Bihar and other parts of the state, a senior official said.

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