After over five hours of high drama, a New Delhi- bound Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express was freed from Maoist-backed tribal activists who held the train hostage at a station in West Bengal's West Midnapore district on Tuesday.
Railway and police sources said the 2443A UP Rajdhani Express was stopped at 2.45 pm in South Eastern Railway's Kharagpur division by a group of people who were squatting on the track at Banstala Halt station a little after the train had left Jhargram in West Midnapore district.
"The CRPF and the state police have reached the spot and the train has been secured," Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi.
"The relief train will move in the next few minutes. The train is safe and all the passengers are safe," he said.
Chidambaram denied reports that there was any exchange of fire with the guerrillas who had abducted the driver and assistant driver of the train.
"I would like the media to show some restraint. Don't report rumours. A civilian driver has been injured. There was no exchange of fire. No CRPF person has been injured," he said.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said that relief train with doctors was on the way to the incident spot. A few passengers had been injured due to stone pelting, she added.
The agitationists were members of the Maoist-backed People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) which has called an indefinite shutdown in West Midnapore district in support of its 33-point charter of demands. The charter includes "stopping police torture on innocent tribals" and "withdrawal of joint security forces" deployed to flush out Maoists from the Lalgarh belt in the district.
Maoist guerrillas have upped their offensive in tribal-dominated areas. In recent days, there have been attacks on police stations and paramilitary troopers at various places.