Naxals abduct Rajdhani Exp drivers in West Midnapore
Around 300 activists of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocitites, spearheading the Lalgarh movement since November 2008, stopped the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani express near Jhargram station and forced the driver and assistant driver out of the train, reports Drimi Chaudhuri. Kishenji denies involvement | See special | Listen to podcast | Helpline no: 0674-2303110india Updated: Oct 27, 2009 20:21 IST
Around 300 activists of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocitites, spearheading the Lalgarh movement since November 2008, stopped the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani express near Jhargram station and forced the driver and assistant driver out of the train.
Till last reports came in, wile they were released around 7.30 pm, the train was stuck between Jhargram and Sardia station of West Midnapore district, about 200 km south east of Kolkata.
Belligerent PCAPA activists, waving red flags, forced the train to stop and blocked the railroad. Many of them pelted stones, causing minor injuries to one passenger.
As police tried to reach the spot they were ambushed near Banshtala where an exchange of fire started. A police driver received bullet injuries. Unconfirmed reports of mine blasts also poured and a few sustained injuries. Sources also said that some people had hurled stones at the stranded train in which a passenger was injured The driver and co-driver of Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, K Anand Rao and KG Rao and the passengers of the train are safe. It is learnt that the state government has got in touch with the union home ministry.
Union Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee said in Delhi that it was a CPI (M) ploy to disrupt railways activities and malign her. She said that talks on the demands of the demonstrators would be done only after the train was released.
A South Eastern Railway spokesman said all train movements on the route have been stopped for the time being and railways authorities were awaiting clearance from the police.
Maoist leader Koteswara Rao, alias Kishenji denied being involved with the situation. "We're ready to intervene for his release and withdrawal of rail blockade," he said.
"Mamata and senior railway officials should come to the spot and sit for talks with the PCAPA men. Mamata should give a patient hearing to the demands of the agitating PCAPA men. Railway should look into the matter. It is not related to the state government," Kishenji said.
The PCAPA leader Santosh Patra demanded that the government should withdraw the flush out operations by the combined forces in the forest belts of West Midnapore district. The state government should also release the people arrested on charge of Maoists activities including PCAPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato. "We will release the driver and his assistant once the government meets up our demand," Patra said on Tuesday evening.
"We were not abducted or harmed. A group of men carrying red flags stopped the train and asked us to get down. Our mobile phones and walky-talkies were taken away. We were also asked not to start the engine till they give us the permission. Since then we are sitting near the engine," said the train's co-driver.