| PICTURE SPEAK |
|THE DAY AFTER: People crowding around the Jehanabad Jail |
In Jehanabad, the guns have fallen silent. Only the blood-smudged pamphlets of the CPI(Maoist) strewn inside the Jehanabad Jail speak of the shock and awe generated by the militants on November 13. Outside the jail walls, scared people say they only heard gunshots as the rebels entered the town in waves, battled with the police for two hours, freed their comrades and kidnapped members of the upper-caste militia, the Ranvir Sena. The bodies of eight Ranvir Sena members were found on November 14 even as the Centre was rushing forces to the state.
While a breakthrough in the case eludes the state administration, Bihar Chief Secretary G.S. Kang said on November 15 that 25 of the fugitives had returned to the jail. The probe suffered a setback when Ajay Kanu, a zonal commander of the CPI(Maoist) and an inmate of the Jehanabad Jail, who was being treated in Patna in police custody for injuries received during the attack, died on November 16.
Meanwhile, across the border in Jharkhand, another story is doing the rounds. On November 11, about 200 Naxalites made a surprise attack on the Home Guard Training Centre in Giridih and looted the armoury. Even as Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda claimed that a crackdown on the extremists was on, 186 rifles and 2,000 bullets that were looted were being smuggled to Jehanabad for Operation Jailbreak. It was not difficult with most of the policemen deputed elsewhere on election duty.
In the daring Sunday night operation-the first major attack by the guerrillas since various outfits, including the People's War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre, merged to form the CPI(Maoist)-the rebels carried out simultaneous attacks on the Police Lines, the Sahajanand College grounds where CRPF men were guarding electronic voting machines and the jail, freeing 340 prisoners and capturing Ranvir Sena activists.
Politicians, who were preoccupied with the Bihar assembly polls and the Volcker Commission Report, are into blame game. In one of the biggest jailbreaks in India, the BJP has found a card to play against the Congress and the RJD. Says BJP General Secretary Pramod Mahajan: "The UPA's soft policy is responsible for the rising menace of the Maoists." Meanwhile, the Centre is pointing fingers at the powers that be in the state. Union Minister of State for Home Prakash Jaiswal says, "It shows the laxity of the Bihar administration. It should not have moved the police force from Jehanabad district to ensure free and fair polling in north Bihar." Ironically, the state is under President's rule and thus under the indirect control of Jaiswal's ministry.
The red stain is spreading, with the regrouped Naxals planning to spread across 17 states in the next five years and dreaming of a corridor from Telangana to Nepal. It is just the beginning of the nightmare for Bihar's next government.
-By Sanjay Kumar Jha