Patna: A panic has gripped Bihar as Maoists, who operate in a large swathe of the state, have threatened to kill top politicians.

The rebels made their intention clear through posters, which they have plastered in several villages of central Bihar and also the neighbouring state of Jharkhand, forcing authorities to issue red alerts in these areas.

On the hand-written posters pasted on the walls of residential buildings, government offices and road-side trees, the Maoists have formally listed the names of some of the politicians whom they plan to target in the coming days. In the past weeks, dozens of such posters have been found in several villages of central Bihar and the bordering areas of Jharkhand, which have robbed the peace of the state police, now hard-placed to check Maoist violence in Bihar.

The politicians who figure in their hit-list include Sushil Kumar Modi (BJP), former deputy chief minister, Giriraj Singh, BJP lawmaker and former minister, Dr CP Thakur, former Bihar BJP chief, Sushil Kumar Singh, JD-U parliamentarian, Ranvijay Singh, JD-U lawmaker, Kaushal Kumar Singh, BSP leader, Indu Bhushan Sharma, national president of the Nationalist Farmers’ Association, and others.

The posters credited to the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), have also exhorted youths and adults to join the outfit’s rank and defeat the “reactionary forces”.

The fresh threats to eliminate some top politicians in the state come close on the heels of three major Maoist attacks recently, leaving a total of 17 people killed — the most recent being the killing of eight policemen on Tuesday in a landmine blast in Aurangabad district.

Finding the overall situation spiralling out of the control, the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar held a high-level meeting with the top officials in the state on Thursday at which he ordered the top bureaucracy and police brass to evolve a strategy to tackle surging Maoist violence in the state. Reports said the chief minister is highly concerned at the sudden spurt in Maoist activities in the state now that the next general elections are a few months away.

Meanwhile, security to Patna-based Beur Central Jail has been beefed up following intelligence inputs that rebels could attack the prison to release their leaders. More than 300 Maoists, including some 30 top leaders, are said to be lodged in this jail. In 2005, Maoists had raided a jail in central Bihar’s Jehanabad district and managed to free a number of their top leaders, including Ajay Kanu.

The opposition BJP and the Congress have blamed the state government’s alleged soft approach towards the rebels for a sudden increase in Maoist activities in Bihar, saying the state recorded a 41 per cent rise in Maoist violence this year as compared to the previous year.

“The state government’s softness towards the rebels has led to this situation now. We are not saying this; in fact this is what states a report of the Joint Intelligence Committee which works under the Cabinet Secretary of the Government of India,” said former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi.