The twisted remains of the Jeep blown up in the landmine blast in Nabinagar. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary
Patna, Dec. 3: Seven security personnel, among them a station house officer, were killed this afternoon when Maoists triggered a landmine to blow up their jeep in Nabinagar.
The strike comes within 72 hours of the Naxalite attack on a train near Jamalpur in Munger district on Saturday.
Aurangabad, bordering Palamau district of Jharkhand, is a hotbed of Maoist activities.
Today’s blast was triggered around 4.30pm when the securitymen, who included personnel from the Special Auxiliary Police (SAP), were returning to Tandawa police station after attending a routine meeting on crime convened by Nabinagar circle inspector Bhup Narayan in his office.
As soon as the vehicle carrying the securitymen reached Tilharpur village on the Nabinagar-Aurangabad main road, about 140km southwest of Patna, the Maoists triggered the landmine.
All the securitymen, including Tandawa station house officer Ajay Kumar, were killed on the spot.
The vehicle was carrying five SAP personnel and a home guard jawan besides the station house officer. The bodies of the security personnel were blown to pieces and the vehicle was twisted beyond recognition by the impact of the blast.
The explosion was so powerful that its impact was felt across a radius of three kilometres. The blast created a crater more than five feet deep in the ground.
Five rifles belonging to the policemen were found at the blast site. “Maybe these rifles were damaged and hence the Maoists thought they were of no use,” said a police source.
The daylight explosion sparked panic among the residents, who did not muster the courage to go to the spot. The place of occurrence is around 45km from the district headquarters of Aurangabad.
Additional director-general (headquarters) Ravinder Kumar confirmed the death of seven persons in the attack. Additional armed forces have been rushed from the headquarters to assist the local police in the combing operation, he added.
Additional director-general (law and order) S.K. Bhardwaj, inspector-general (Patna zone) S.M. Khopde and deputy inspector-general (Magadh range) B.S. Meena have been asked to camp in Aurangabad.
Apparently concerned over stepped-up activities of the Maoists, chief minister Nitish Kumar summoned director-general of police Abhayanand to his 1 Aney Marg residence and took stock of the situation.
Abhayanand said the attack in Aurangabad was the fallout of a recent move of the administration to confiscate the property of 21 Maoist leaders, including some top-ranking ones hailing from Aurangabad and Jehanabad districts, under the Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act.
Nabinagar station house officer Dhruv Kumar said it was surprising that the blast took place on the main road, since most such attacks are carried out in the interiors. Police sources didn’t rule out the attack to be in retaliation against the arrest of Maoist leader Pradeep Yadav last month.
A statement issued by CPI (Maoist) leader Prahar said the attack was a warning to stop Operation Green Hunt launched against the outfit. Bihar is officially not part of the operation.
The state has witnessed a spurt in Maoist attacks in the past few months, particularly after June 16 when the ruling JD(U) snapped its ties with the BJP.
On Saturday, Maoists killed three policemen and injured two others before fleeing with their automatic weapons in Munger’s Jamalpur. The Maoists had targeted a passenger train to snatch weapons from the securitymen deployed to escort the train shuttling between Sahebganj in Jharkhand and Danapur on Saturday evening.
On October 17, 2013, seven persons, including the husband of a district board member of Aurangabad, were killed in a landmine explosion at a culvert near Pisay village under the jurisdiction of Obra police station in Aurangabad district.
The Centre had earlier criticised the Nitish Kumar government for going soft on the Maoists. Of Bihar’s 38 districts, 21 have been identified as Naxalite-hit. As many as 15 of them are categorised as “worst affected”.
The BJP was quick to attack the government. Former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said: “Due to the soft attitude of the minority Nitish Kumar government, Maoists and terrorists have an upper hand in Bihar.”