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News & Views on the Revolutionary Left

Naxal attack haunts hostel inmates

DANTEWARA, MARCH 16: The horrors of Wednesday night will perhaps haunt six-year-old Pratima Mandal forever. As the Maoists went about killing 54 security personnel present at the Rani Bodli outpost, Pratima, along with 29 other girls, huddled on the floor in another wing of the same building, waiting for help to arrived

Chhattisgarh government policy, allowing use of community buildings to house security forces engaged in anti-Naxal operations, was the reason why the security men were staying within the same premises as the inmates of the SC/ST welfare hostel.

Most of the girls spent the entire night lying flat on the floor to avoid being caught by a stray bullet. Neeta Kudiyam, who had been staying at the hostel for the past few months, said she won't ever be able to return to school.

"The bullets were flying everywhere, with bombs exploding at regular intervals. I almost cried," she said. Interestingly, the Maoists only targeted the part of the building which was being used by the security forces and the entire section was set on fire. However, the adjoining section, which housed the girls, remained untouched. While windows of the section used by troops were blown off or burnt down, the windows and doors of the hostel section remained intact.

All through the night the students had an assistant teacher and two helpers posted in the hostel for company. "As our teacher told us to stay down and not make any noise we kept praying that we would be rescued from this hell," said Sudfa Vachan, another student.

Finally, the group was rescued by "advanced" parties of troops which arrived at about 6 am. The girls had to wade through blood and scattered bodies as they were secretly shifted to another hostel at Somanpalli village, about five km away from the massacre site. The secrecy was to ensure that the media did not get to speak to the girls.

Following the incident, most of the children were taken away home by their parents.

Meanwhile, the Chhattisgarh government today suspended the officer in-charge of Rani Bodli police outpost in Bastar region. Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam has decided to give Rs 2 lakh to the family of slain Special Police Officers and about Rs 16 lakh to the Chhattisgarh Armed Force Jawans. The Indian Express

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posted by Resistance 3/17/2007 11:55:00 AM,


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