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RJD bears brunt of poll clashes

Patna, April 10: Union minister Sanjay Paswan, the BJP candidate for the Nawada Lok Sabha seat, was injured and at least three Rashtriya Janata Dal workers killed as poll violence erupted in Bihar on a day Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made his first campaign visit to the state.

When Vajpayee landed in the capital and took off for Buxar, Patna was awash with reports of clashes between RJD and BJP workers triggered by a shooting.

Trouble broke out at Gandhi Nagar in the Chitragupta Nagar locality, where the RJD opened a campaign office a day ago, as three gunmen opened fire, killing one party worker.

The firing — allegedly by criminals patronised by the BJP — led to a pitched battle between two sections outside the office. Four persons were seriously injured and the office incurred some damage in the resulting arson and stone-pelting.

The RJD has called a bandh tomorrow.

Patna’s RJD candidate Ram Kripal Yadav accused his BJP rival, C.P. Thakur, of engineering the attack. Thakur’s car was damaged in retaliation.

In the evening, Thakur called a news conference and denied any BJP role in the attack.

Police later said factional feud was suspected to be the reason for the attack on the RJD office.

Paswan’s vehicle was targeted when he was campaigning in Nawada, police sources said. Apart from the candidate, some of his supporters were also injured in the attack.

In another attack on an RJD convoy at Telwa Bazar in Jamui district, two supporters were killed and two have gone missing. Unconfirmed reports put the number of deaths at three.

The convoy of around seven vehicles was returning after filing the nomination of the RJD nominee from Banka, Girdhari Yadav, who is pitted against the Janata Dal (United)’s Digvijay Singh, also a Union minister.

Yesterday, the People’s War, which has called for an election boycott, “punished” the Dal(U) in Jehanabad for defying its ban on campaigning. The extremists stopped the jeep of sitting MP and Jehanabad candidate Arun Kumar at a village near Imamganj, forced the occupants out and burned the vehicle. They shaved the heads of five men, beat them up and held the district party president, Jagdev Prasad Kushvaha, hostage.

In neighbouring Gaya district, the same outfit attacked the BJP office at Guraru and beat up some party workers.

The Maoist Communist Centre has also asked people to stay away from the elections.

Some frontal organisations of the Naxalite outfits today demonstrated in Patna while the administration was engrossed in providing foolproof security to the Prime Minister. They appealed to the public to boycott the elections as polls bring a new government but cannot do away with the system.

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