The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Janata chief runs into ambush

Hazaribagh, Feb. 16: The Janata Dal (United) state president escaped a Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) attack today.

The Naxalites opened fire on Gautam Sagar Rana’s cavalcade that was part of the Sankalp Yatra. The policemen following the yatra opened fire in retaliation, triggering a long exchange.

According to police sources, no one was injured and Rana was whisked away well in time. The Naxalites, however, escaped into the nearby forest close to Chatra district.

Rana, who fought the Assembly polls from the Naxalite-infested Bagodar constituency and lost, had resigned from the NDA coordination committee’s chairmanship in protest against the BJP’s cold shoulder to alliance partners’ interests while taking major policy decisions.

The JD(U), which officially often opposed chief minister Babulal Marandi’s style of functioning, recently decided to organise Sankalp Yatra across the state.

According to reports reaching the district headquarters, the yatra was on its way today to Chatra district according to schedule. Many district leaders from Chatra and Hazaribagh were with Rana when the MCC attacked. As Rana’s cavalcade reached Marigadha forest, around 50 Naxalites opened indiscriminate fire.

One of the bullets punctured a tyre of Rana’s car. The lights and windscreen of the jeep in which officer-in-charge of Katkamsandi was present was also targetted.

The police officers immediately escorted Rana to the Sankalp Rath and whisked him away. Later, they took positions and exchanged fire with the Naxalites for nearly three hours.

Both sides fired more than 100 rounds of bullets but there were no reports of casualties on either side. All top officers, including superintendent of police Neeraj Sinha, rushed to the spot.

According to sources, untoward incidents were averted because of the police’s alertness.

The MCC attack occurred soon after Sinha called a meeting of police personnel to discuss a spurt in crime. Sinha directed all his officers to check the activities of the MCC in their areas and develop a network to get information on the Naxalites.

According to state officials, a massive combing operation was launched but later called off because of the late hours.

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