Armed Maoist squads struck at two railway stations in Sundergarh district of Orissa in the wee hours of Saturday, blowing up the main office and signal control room of the Bhalulata station and suspected to have abducted the stationmaster of the Chandiposh station.
Railway traffic along the Rourkela-Ranchi and Howrah-Mumbai routes was disrupted after the incident. Some trains including long distance express trains had to be cancelled.
The attacks on the railway stations are reported to be part of the Maoists' call for a 24-hour shutdown from Saturday after two of their top leaders – including CPI (Maoist) central committee member Ashutosh – were reportedly nabbed on Friday, although Rourkela Superintendent of police Santosh Bala denied any such arrest.
According to reports, a group of about 30 Maoists attacked the Chandiposh railway station, 35 km from Rourkela, between 2.15 am and 2.40 am, completely destroying the station’s telephone system.
Another group of about 40 armed guerrillas attacked the Bhalulata station, 35 km from Rourkela, at 3.40 am. They dragged out stationmaster Maheswar Pradhan and two others, but released them before leaving. The group also blew up the main office and signal control room with dynamite.
Immediately after the ultras left, the Central Reserve Police Force and police personnel started combing the area. A bomb disposal squad was also sent to the Bhalulata station.
The stationmaster of Chandiposh, Sunil Kumar Singh, and another person were found to be missing. “We suspect they may have been abducted by the Maoists,” said Bala.