The killings, a continuation of internecine caste warfare, came even as an acutely embarrassed Centre held emergency meetings and rushed 1,000 paramilitary troops to the state for anti-Naxal operations. Admitting security lapses, the Union home ministry said two helicopters were also being rushed and asserted that accountability would be fixed.
The deceptive calm in the ongoing Assembly elections was shattered when armed Naxalites, over 1,000-strong, stormed Jehanabad town, with its cadre attacking the police lines, the jail and a college where voting machines had been kept.
Four persons were killed and an unspecified number of imprisoned Ranvir Sena men were taken away in the meticulously planned attack that was carried out after snapping off power to the city. Dreaded Naxal leaders Ajay Kanu and Murali were also freed in the attack.
Bodies of some of the abducted men were recovered on Monday. District magistrate Rana Avadhesh told a press conference in Jehanabad that bodies of three were recovered from the rail tracks near the jail. Five others were killed in Belagang in adjoining Gaya district, he added.
The body of a prominent Ranvir Sena activist Visweshwar Rai was found un Pinjora village in Jehanabad district. During last nights attack a sentry, a warder and Ranvir Sena leader Bade Sharma were gunned down at the overcrowded sub-jail.
According to the IG (prisons), the CRPF took charge of the jail and restored order only 15 hours after the attack. Confusion prevailed over the number of prisoners who had either escaped or been kidnapped by the Naxals.The DM put the number of escapees at 341, of whom three were nabbed. However, the IG (prisons) put the number of missing at 389, of whom six were recaptured.
The Union home ministry, which reviewed the situation here, said as many as 8-10 companies of paramilitary forces were being rushed to Bihar. The state administration already has 24 companies of forces engaged in such operations.
Terming this as an unfortunate incident, Union home secretary VK Duggal said that while the attack was repulsed from police lines and college, the Naxalites were successful in climbing the walls of Jehanabad prison.
Union home minister Shivraj Patil also held a review meeting with senior officials of the ministry and asked to provide all possible assistance to Bihar.
To a question whether intelligence inputs were suggesting about the attack or was there any administration failure, Mr Duggal said obviously, nearly 500 people assembled in Jehanabad and the authorities cant say that they were not aware of it.