|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Bihar: Naxalites created bomb scare to make prisoners flee
November 14, 2005 15:55 IST
Communist Party of India-Maoist guerrillas, who virtually held sway over Jehanabad Sunday night, forced the jail guards to open the locks of the wards and created a bomb scare in order to make the inmates flee for their lives.
Scores of naxalites in police uniform used a wooden ladder to scale the walls of the prison and once inside, they opened the main entrance of the jail to allow their comrades in, Birju, a prison inmate said.
"The earth under my feet trembled with sounds of huge explosions and gunfire bursts as we were having dinner," the prisoner, who preferred to stay back instead of fleeing with 341 other inmates, said.
Sudama Sharma, another inmate who was still inside one of the wards said the CPI-Maoist rebels first shot dead two sentries and then forced others to open the locks of various wards.
One of them had a hand-held loudspeaker and he ordered the prisoners to flee saying they had planted a huge bomb inside the jail which was about to explode, said Sharma, an undertrial prisoner.
Soon utter chaos prevailed in the jail crammed with prisoners who headed for the main entrance and vanished into the darkness amid the staccato noise of gunfire.
The extremists then asked the inmates about the whereabouts of Bade Sharma whom they dragged out of the ward and shot dead, Birju said.
The naxalites raised pro-revolution, anti-government and anti-police slogans before leaving.
When the Naxalites raided the town around 9 pm, it was plunged into darkness as there was a power cut. "At first I thought children were bursting crackers and so I came out of my hut, but I found uniformed men firing their guns who ordered me to go inside. I mistook them for police, but they were Naxalites," says Mithilesh Mistri, a bicycle mechanic whose house is located between police lines and the jail, two main targets of the attack.
The people of Jehanabad, who spent a sleepless night due to one of the worst naxalite attacks in recent memory, were out on the streets as dawn broke.
Thousands of men, women and even small children converged near the jail whose gates were wide open. Many of the relatives of the inmates were seen frantically searching for their near and dear ones and cursing the authorities for failing to protect even the jail from the Naxalites' onslaught.
"When people are not safe in custody of the law where can one find safety you tell me," wondered Birendra Sharma, a teacher.
Many of the prisoners were spotted mingling freely with the crowds and even sipping tea at the stalls before returning to the jail premises again.
"If we are here it is because we respect the law. Do you find any policeman who can stop us if we desire to escape?" asks Birju.
Sanjay Pandey and Hameed, who were among the 341 prisoners who had escaped Sunday night, have returned. "We fled due to bomb scare. Nobody wants to die after all," says Pandey, whose relatives were making a desperate search for him.