Maoists on late Monday evening hijacked the Tatanagar-Bilaspur passenger train on the Howrah-Mumbai route in West Singhbhum district, adjoining the Saranda forest, a stronghold of the ultras.
The red brigade took the train captive at9.30 pm and held it for more than an hour. There were no reports of casualties or injuries in the hijack. The Maoists stuck posters on the train, demanding that Operation Greenhunt (an anti-red offensive) be stopped immediately, and placed a one-kg can-bomb on the engine before releasing the train.
“Our men rushed to Posaita station soon after we learnt about the incident. Some explosive devices were found placed on the train’s engine, and they were later defused. The movements of trains were normal by 4 am,” said Kumudh Choudhary, DGP (railways).
The Maoists, about 50 in number, had AK-47s, INSAS rifles and other automatic weapons. They assured passengers that they would not be harmed.
After the train was let off, a joint team comprising the CRPF, the West Singhbhum district police and Jharkhand Jaguar had a two-hour encounter with the Maoists on Tuesday. There were no reports of casualties.
The hijacking of the passenger train is the third such incident in the past six years. In 2009, Maoists hijacked the Barkakana-Dehri-on-Sone-Mughalsarai (BDM) in Latehar district and had taken around 500 passengers captive for more than four hours. The same train had been taken captive in 2006.
For one and a half years, trains did not ply on the Howrah-Mumbai route between Rourkela and Kharagpur after 7 pm following the sabotage of the Gyansehwari Express at Jhargram in West Bengal on May 28, 2010. The incident had claimed 150 lives.