Maoist hijack ends; Rajdhani on way to Delhi

Bhubaneswar Express resumed its journey after a nerve-wracking saga when Maoist rebels held it hostage.

Zeenews Bureau

Kolkata: The Bhubaneswar-Delhi Rajdhani
Express held up by a pro-Maoist group in West Bengal`s West
Midnapore district left on Tuesday night after detention of seven and half hours and would be escorted by CRPF to the national
capital, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said.

"The train has left with a pilot engine in the
vanguard. The CRPF will escort the train to Delhi," the
Railway Minister said from New Delhi.

Since many of the passengers went through a traumatic
experience, doctors are on board the train, she said.

"Food and drinking water have been brought from the
Kharagpur station and more would be picked up from Tatanagar
station since most of the eatables were looted from the pantry
car by the agitators," she said.

"This is a special train. It is not a regular train.
This train should not have been stopped. It is not proper to
play with the lives of people," she said.

A relief train earlier reached the area at 4:30pm but
had to wait for security clearance to reach the spot," she

Maoists seize Bhubaneswar Rajdhani

Earlier Armed Maoist-backed tribal
activists had seized the Bhubaneswar-Delhi Rajdhani Express
in West Midnapore district but the prestigious train was freed
by security forces after a five-hour hostage drama and all
passengers were safe.

After several tension-filled hours, that saw a police team rushing to the spot ambushed by the Left wing rebels, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers and state policemen finally took over the train around 7 p.m.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced the end of the security operation in New Delhi.

"The CRPF and the state police have reached the spot and the train has been secured," Chidambaram told reporters.

"The relief train will move in the next few minutes. The train is safe and all the passengers are safe," he said.

Chidambaram denied reports that there was any exchange of fire with the guerrillas.

"I would like the media to show some restraint. Don`t report rumours. A civilian driver has been injured. There was no exchange of fire. No CRPF person has been injured," he said.

The activists, under the aegis of a Lalgarh group
People`s Committee against Police Atrocities(PCPA), also took
control of the two drivers in an unprecedented step to demand
the release of their jailed leader Chhatradhar Mahato.

The demand which was also scrawled in writing on the
train bogies was firmly rejected by West Bengal Chief Minister
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

The train was secured without any incident shortly after
dusk by CRPF after the state police was rushed to the spot
after about 400 to 500 activists guided by "25 armed Maoists"
took control of the high speed train at about 2.30 PM in a
jungle area, about five hours after it left Bhubaneswar.

Escorted by CRPF personnel, the train with about 1,200
passengers on board resumed its journey to New Delhi after
being held up for seven and a half hours.

The activists ordered the two drivers of the train to
alight and not to take it forward after they brought it to
halt waving red flags and placing a tree branch on the track
at Banstala, 10 km from Jhargram station.

"The train is safe and passengers are safe," said Home
Minister P Chidambaram, who monitored the situation closely
in New Delhi. Union Home Secretary G K Pillai called the
Maoist action as a "publicity stunt".

Passengers were also asked to alight from the trains. "We
were kept hostage and surrounded from all directions," said B
K Mohanty.