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Researcher studying Naxals goes missing

Shoumojit Banerjee

Patna: A young researcher studying the Naxal movement in Bihar has gone missing with her guide from the State's Jamui district, police officials said. She hailed from Bangalore.

Juhi Kumari, who is in her early twenties, is believed to have gone missing on Wednesday, along with her aide Pradip Dass, when on the way to the Jamui Railway Station to catch a train for Bangalore late on Wednesday, said Jamui Superintendent of Police Raj Narain Singh.

According to the police, Juhi's mobile was giving a “switched off” message. Though contact was momentarily established at 9.34 p.m., there has been no trace since.

Mr. Singh said Juhi, who had been researching in the extremist hotbed over the last year-and-a-half, usually resided at a harijan hamlet known as Mahulia Tar, which falls in the adjoining Nawada district. Ms. Juhi had visited the area around four to five times, living and mingling freely with the dalits in the hamlet for a period of 15-20 days at a stretch.

She would travel with Dass on his bike to the Maoist-affected villages where she held meetings with civil society activists, NGO workers and local people in pursuit of of her research, especially in areas such as Garhi and Khaira, police sources said.

The police are worried that Juhi may be used by the Naxals as a bargaining tool to get their leaders in Jamui jail released.

Mr. Singh said the search was being intensified.

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