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WB-Jharkhand border: Maoists hijack train, make off with rifles

Source: PTI
Last updated on: December 10, 2006 18:38 IST
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Armed Maoists on Sunday hijacked a passenger train on the West Bengal-Jharkhand border and threatened to blow it up, but later abandoned it and made off with two rifles and a walkie-talkie.

South-Eastern railway officials said the Tata-Kharagpur train was taken over at 10.25 am near a deep forest between Gidni and Chakulia stations in Jharkhand by a group of 25 to 30 Maoists. The rebels, who boarded the train as passengers, detained it and threatened to blow it up.

They fled after holding the train for nearly two hours when security forces were rushed from Jamshedpur, said East Singhbhum's Deputy Superintendent of Police S P Burnwal.

The Maoists snatched two rifles from two Railway Protection Force personnel escorting the train and a walkie-talkie from the driver, he said.

Railway authorities, however, could not immediately confirm reports that the Maoists had looted cash amounting to Rs 1 lakh.

The two RPF personnel -- a constable and a head constable -- were injured and admitted to a railway hospital, sources said.

Kharagpur's Divisional Railway Manager Ranjan Tiwary said the train resumed its journey at 2.25 pm after a four-hour delay. All the passengers were safe, he said.

The tracks were thoroughly searched for bombs possibly planted by Maoists before the train was allowed to resume its journey, officials said. 

Jharkhand's Chief Minister Madhu Koda said it was not yet clear that the men who held up the train were Naxalites, but he did not rule out the possibility that the rebels were involved.

"It is not yet clear that they are Naxals because they did not leave any note or leaflet as they usually do. But the way this incident happened, it also cannot be said that they were not Naxals," he said adding, the men had headed for the border with West Bengal after leaving the train.

East Singhbhum's Superintendent of Police Pankaj Darat said the Maoists hid in nearby areas after hijacking the train and threatened to blow it up.

They, however, gave up their seige as additional police forces reached the spot from Jamshedpur.

A report from the headquarters of South Eastern Railways in Kolkata said panic-stricken passengers tried to jump off the train and ran towards Chakulia station after the Maoists blocked the track.

The passengers informed the station master at Chakulia about the hijacking and gave him a description of the attackers.

A railway spokesman said the down line of the section was blocked to traffic as a result of the incident. Movement of trains on the section was disrupted from 10.30 am, he said.

A similar train hijacking by Maoists was reported last year on the Adra Chkaradharpur section of South Eastern Railways. At that time too, the attackers had threatened to blow up the train.

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