Two drivers of the New Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express were kidnapped today near Banstala in West Midnapore district by People's Committee against Police Atrocities, which said they had taken the duo for flouting its rail roko call.
The train came to a halt when driver K Anantha Rao found a felled tree across the tracks at Banstala, 10 km from Jhargram station, police sources said.
Some men then took him away along with assistant driver K J Rao, the sources said.
The Railways said the train and all passengers were safe as also the guard.
Santosh Patra, who has taken over PCPA's leadership after the arrest of Chhatradhar Mahato, claimed the drivers were in the group's custody but denied they had been kidnapped.
"They have not been abducted or harmed. There are with us at Banstola. We have nothing against them. We will release them shortly."
Patra said the drivers had flouted the rail roko when an indefinite bandh against 'atrocities' by the joint security forces in the district had begun since morning.
Jhargram SDO P Ulganathan said when the joint forces rushed to the spot there was a heavy exchange of fire at a place between Manikpara and Jhargram.
"We have no report of casualty," Ulganathan said.
Maoist leader Kishenji, outrightly denied involvement. "We were not involved in the kidnap. Neither did we call a bandh. The PCPA has called a bandh which we support."
"We are supporting the people who are agitating. They want Mamata Banerjee to come and listen to their problems," Kishenji said.
Patra also made the same demand. "If state government officials or the Railway Minister come, we will release the drivers. If they come today we will release them today.
"We have a 22-point demand. The joint forces are committing atrocities on us branding us as Maoists. Our leader Chhadradhar Mahato has been framed," he said.
The kidnap took place, days after the abduction of Sankrail police station officer-in-charge Atindranath Dutta on October 20 who was later released.
PCPA activists disrupted traffic movement in several parts of the district. They burnt down a lorry at Pitrapuli near Salboni, SDO Ulganathan said, adding PCPA men also torched a CPI-M local office at Hatipota village.
He said that the police also recovered a body, believed to be that of a Maoist activist, from Patasjangal area under Goaltore police station. He was suspected to have been killed in an armed clash with the CPI-M in the area recently.
The top brass of the state administration, including Chief Secretary Asok Mohan Chakraborty, Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen and police chief Bhupinder Singh are in the district headquarters to review Maoist activities.