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Border sealed after red raid attempt

Patna, April 1: Over 700 km of India-Nepal border was sealed in the wake of a Maoist raid on a police station at Riga yesterday, even as the rebels “celebrated the joining of their counterparts in the government in the neighbouring country” today, by firing in the air in the Balmiki Nagar forests on the border.

“The Sima Suraksha Bal (SSB) has been deployed all along the border to prevent the rebels from either side from crossing the international line of divide,” Bihar director-general of police (DGP) A.R. Sinha said.

Three platoons of CRPF have been despatched in the affected areas, IG (operations) R.R. Verma added.

Police confirmed that a jawan of the special auxiliary force (SAF), Madanlal Prasad, who suffered bullet injury in a battle with over 400 Maoists, died late last night. The Maoists launched a whiplash strike, firing with carbines and other automatic weapons.

The rebels had targeted a bridge, a Bank of Baroda branch and a sugar factory at Riga, besides the police station, about 100 km from Patna, around 6.30 pm yesterday. A bank official and a guard, hit by bullets, are undergoing treatment.

“We have requested the Union home ministry to talk to the Nepal government over infiltration of Maoists and their arms into the country,” home secretary Afzal Amannullah told The Telegraph.

Intelligence officials confirmed that the rebels around the Nepal-Bihar border areas were “regularly sneaking in” and exchanging “training, arms and warfare skills”.

“It’s a porous border with many Indians and Nepalese having family ties. We have identified at least 30 Maoists from Nepal lying in various hospitals in the districts bordering the Himalayan kingdom in the last one year,” a senior intelligence official said.

The north Bihar districts, which share borders with Nepal, include East and West Champaran, Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Araria, Kishenganj and Katihar.

“The dense Balmiki Nagar forests on the banks of Susta dividing India and Nepal, besides the riverine areas of Purnia, Katihar, Sitamarhi and Saharsa are a haven for Naxalites, a senior police official said.

He added: “It’s not that easy to guard the porous border, especially with the rebels mingling with the local population in the bordering villages of India.”

Sitamarhi superintendent of police M.R. Nayak denied “intelligence failure” as the reason behind the rebel raids.

“As many as 30 personnel had been guarding the remote Riga police station. Under normal circumstances, no police station keeps 30 personnel,” he said.

“The intensive raids by the police in the sensitive areas believed to be hideouts of the Maoists are the reason for their retaliation. It was a bid to loot arms and demoralise the police, which was effectively foiled,” DIG Gupteshwar Pandey, who is spearheading a patrol in the region, said.

Intelligence officials said gunshots and slogans renting the air of Balmiki Nagar forest suggested “celebration” by the Maoists on reports of their “comrades” joining the Nepal government.

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