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Naxals in Beur Jail force govt to order judicial probe
Ambrish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, December 18
The Nitish government today ordered a judicial probe into the circumstances that led Nagina Manjhi, 40, a member of the outlawed Naxalite outfit, to commit suicide inside the high security Beur Jail on December 14. Manjhi was found hanging from the iron gate of the jail infirmary where he was being treated for a minor ailment.

The probe order was preceded by an unprecedented protest by about 300 inmates, reportedly being led by the Naxalites and being backed by other inmates, today over the suicide incident that lasted for about eight hours. During the protest the inmates were reported to have taken virtual control of the inner compound of the jail by chasing away the security guards.

The IG (prison) Sandip Paundrik, however, in a statement denied the reports that the Naxal inmates led the agitation in the jail today.

The incident, with or without the involvement of the Naxals, took place even after the jails across Bihar were put on high alert by the state administration yesterday after the daring jailbreak by the Naxalites in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh on Sunday.

The development perhaps also exposed the chinks in the armour of Nitish government to deal with the security related issues within the jail compound and that too in the high security Beur Jail.

And even though the state administration tried to put up a brave front denying the Naxalite involvement behind the reported virtual seizing of the inner compound of the Beur Jail today, in a separate incident the armed Naxals raided an office of a private construction company and beat up the workers, leaving 11 of them injured, at Dhansura in Gaya district on Monday night.

The police said the Naxalites numbering around 500 swooped on the office of the construction company engaged in laying new rail lines between Rajgir in Bihar and Tilaiya in Jharkhand, and beat up the workers with batons before damaging eight tractors and an earth mover. Eight of the critically wounded were sent to the Patna Medical College and Hospital.

Naxalites carried out the attack, the third in a row in the last week after the recent killing of three persons in Vaishali followed by the blasting of the rail tracks at Lakshisarai, reportedly to intimidate the construction company officials after they failed to get the levy demanded by them.

Unconfirmed reports said today’s incident at Beur Jail started when agitating inmates attacked the police personnel on duty inside the jail and chased them away.

Beur Jail presently houses top Naxal leaders like Ajay Kanu, among others. Kanu was the mastermind behind the Jehanabad jailbreak in Bihar where 150 Naxalites, besides, other 140 inmates, had escaped in 2005. The Jehanabad was still the biggest ever jailbreak by the Naxalites.

The inmates had begun a hunger strike inside the jail premises from Sunday after Nagina Manjhi had committed suicide inside the jail on Saturday. After news spread about the uprising, top police and administrative officials rushed to the jail from Patna to negotiate with the inmates. Additional security forces were also rushed to the spot.

The normalcy reportedly was restored after the higher-ups of the administration succumbed to the demand by the agitators to order a judicial probe into the suicide by the Naxal leader Nagina Manjhi.

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