"Bihar bandh" fails to evoke response;Seven killed in encounter

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Patna, Dec 20 (UNI) At least seven people, including a CRPF Assistant Commandant and two jawans, were killed and nine seriously injured in last night's fierce encounter with Maoist guerrillas in East Champaran district, even as the Maoist-sponsored 24-hour "Bihar Bandh" failed to impact the state today.

Besides CRPF Assistant Commandant Vinay Kumar Kapil and two of his bodyguards, three Maoist guerrillas and a villager were killed in the gun battle which continued for more than six hours from 1900 hours, Inspector General of Bihar Police (Operations) S K Bharadwaj said today.

Among the injured were another CRPF jawan, six extremists and two villagers, including a 12-year-girl, who was caught in the crossfire.

While the injured security personnel and villagers had been admitted to the district hospital with multiple injuries, the insurgents fled with the bodies of the three deceased comrades and the injured, Mr Bharadwaj informed.

He said acting on a tip off that a group of about 75 Maoist guerrillas had assembled at the remote village bordering Nepal, about 70 km from the district headquarters, for a secret meeting, a police team reached the spot and asked them to surrender.

But the ultras started firing indiscriminately at the police, who retaliated and a fierce encounter ensued in which seven people were killed and nine critically injured.

Meanwhile, the bandh, called to protest the "unnatural" death of one of its senior comrades in Beur Central jail here last week, failed to evoke any response in the state.

Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Anil Kumar said the government had sounded a "high alert" throughout the state since last night and directed all Superintendents of Police to ensure foolproof security to all vital installations, government offices, railway stations and other community places.

The Railway Police had also been instructed to make special security arrangements along tracks passing through Bihar, he said.

Stating that there was no report of any untoward incident in connection with the bandh, Mr Kumar said even the extremist-dominated regions of South and North Bihar remained peaceful.

All schools, offices, business establishments, shops and markets remained open and vehicles were plying normally in Patna and other cities and towns, Mr Kumar said.

However, he said as a precautionary measure additional forces had been despatched to the Indo-Nepal border in several north Bihar districts to prevent influx of Maoist guerillas from across the border.

The Seema Shasastra Bal (SSB) had also been put on high alert to foil any disruptive attempt of hardcore CPI (Maoists), he added.

UNI

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