Passengers of the train, which was allegedly ‘hijacked’ by the CPI (Maoist) in Jharkhand on Wednesday morning, said they didn’t see any armed Naxalites in and around the Hehegara railway station, where the train was stranded for over four hours.
“The train was not hijacked at all. It was forcibly stopped and detained for four hours at Hehegara by Maoists in ordinary clothes, so that they could enforce their bandh call,” Sikandar Chaouhan, a passenger told HT at Daltonganj station.
The train reached Daltonganj at 12.30 pm, an hour after it resumed its journey from Hehegara.
“We didn’t see people in any Naxal outfits such as khakhis, olive green, military colours or black uniforms,” said Mukesh Lal, another passenger. He said the men were not armed. Lal said those who stopped the train shouted slogans like Inquilab Zindabad, Police Murdabad, Badla Lekar Rahengey.
Another passenger, Gyanchand Chouhan, said, “Since I travel on this section very often, I understand the ways of the Naxals. No ordinary villager would dare to stop a train unless he was backed by these forces.”
Train driver A.K. Sarkar, said, “As soon as the train halted at Hehegara station at 7.30 am, hundreds of suspected ultras in civilian clothes ordered me not to move an inch till further orders. They were all unarmed. Some of them had gathered on the railway track.”
Assistant driver R.K. Kumar added, “Around 11.30 am, a man in ordinary clothes came close to our cabin and ordered us to proceed, saying the train was being released to relieve the women and children of their misery. At the same time, another man reconnected the hose pipe.”
Latehar superintendent of police Hemant Toppo claimed that the CPI (Maoist) guerrillas were involved in the train hostage drama and used the locals in civil dress as a cover.