Monday, December 11, 2006

Singur slogan in train raid

Singur slogan in train raid

Chakulia/Midnapore, Dec. 10: A second chapter was added to Singur’s Naxalite link today when 25 armed rebels raided a Kharagpur-bound local train in Jharkhand shouting slogans against farmland acquisition for the Tata Motors factory.

The attackers, who carried carbines and pistols, did not harm the passengers but robbed two Railway Protection Force jawans of their rifles, throwing one of them out of the train when he resisted.

Rail traffic on the Howrah-Mumbai main line under the South Eastern Railways came to a grinding halt for more than four hours on Sunday when CPI(Maoist) cadres stopped the 346 Tata-Kharagpur passenger train on the Gidhni-Chakulia line in east Singhbhum district of Jharkhand bordering West Bengal for about two hours.

The Maoists also looted two rifles and cash from the Railway Police Force (RPF) personnel escorting the train, snatched walkie-talkie sets from the guard and driver of the train. However, all passengers — mostly vendors and students — were stated to be stable.

The train was stopped near the Kanimouli station in Jharkhand (176 km from Howrah) at 10.30 am by five-six armed Maoists who were already on the train.

According to some passengers, the Maoists first forcibly snatched the rifles of the two RPF personnel — head constable A K Hansda and constable R K Das — escorting the train.

The Maoists also walked away with the walkie-talkie sets of the driver and guard of the train. Before getting off the train, they warned the RPF personnel and the passengers against taking any action saying they had planted explosives on the tracks.

The track was cleared at 2.25 pm after security forces carried out a search, said South Eastern Railway CPRO Devashish Chandra.

The place where the incident took place is a dense forest area bordering Jhargram of West Bengal where there has been a spate of Maoist activity of late. Chaibasa DSP S Barnawal said the Maoists often crossed over from Bengal to Jharkhand to loot police rifles and slipped back to their villages.

The incident has again raised questions about security of train passengers in Maoist-hit areas. However, Chandra said there had been no such prior incident on the route.

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