Mon, 14 Nov 2005 11:39:04 +0100 (CET)
[MAOIST_REVOLUTION] Maoist rebels storm jail in east India, free 350
The rebels entered Jehanabad town in impoverished and
crime-ridden Bihar state on Sunday night in small
groups, cut off power and raided the prison in one of
the biggest ever attacks by Maoist guerrillas, a
police officer said.
The rebels, who were estimated to number 700, killed a
prison guard and a member of a private army of upper
caste landlords in a gunbattle with policemen.
The guerrillas also abducted at least two dozen
members of the Ranvir Sena, the private army of upper
caste landlords, who were jail inmates.
"It is the biggest ever attack in Bihar and it is for
the first time the heart of a town was taken over by
Maoists," a federal police officer, who did not want
to be named, said.
The rebels, who operate in eastern and southern India,
say they are fighting for the rights of landless
labourers and impoverished peasants. In Bihar, they
often clash with private armies of landlords. Dozens
have been killed in the past decade.
The attack took place on a day when police had been
deployed in other parts of Bihar for elections to the
state legislature in a month-long process which ends
"The main logic for the attack was that our forces
were all deployed for the elections," federal junior
Home Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal said.
CHAOTIC SCENES AT JAIL
Residents of Jehanabad, a town of around 80,000
people, recalled a night of terror.
"I heard gunshots and explosions in the night. Then
the lights went off. I have never seen anything like
this," school teacher Ranjay Kumar said.
Police and witnesses said the Maoists made
announcements during their night-time attack in
Jehanabad, about 50 km (31 miles) south of Patna, the
state capital, saying civilians should remain indoors
and would not be harmed.
On Monday, the prison gates were open and people were
moving in and out of the jail at will. Hundreds of
curious bystanders surrounded the jail, some of them
climbing trees to watch.
Supporters of the Ranvir Sena, the private army set up
to defend the interests of upper caste landlords,
gathered outside the jail, protesting the kidnapping
of members of the group.
The Maoists have stepped up attacks in recent months.
Last week, about 300 Maoists stormed a training centre
for auxiliary policemen, killing five cadets, in
neighbouring Jharkhand state.
India's home ministry has estimated there around about
9,300 armed Maoist rebels in the country and say they
have links with Maoist insurgents in neighbouring
Nepal who are fighting to overthrow the Himalayan