Maoists attack railway properties over 65 times in past 1 year

The Jhargram train attack that killed 68 people, exposing the vulnerability of railway properties, is the latest of the over 65 Maoist attacks in the past one year.

Updated: May 28, 2010, 18:06 PM IST

New Delhi: The Jhargram train attack that
killed 68 people, exposing the vulnerability of railway
properties, is the latest of the over 65 Maoist attacks in the
past one year.

Left-wing extremists have carried out four attacks on
railway properties this month alone.

On May 19, they triggered a landmine blast on railway
tracks near Jhargram in West Midnapore district, injuring two
drivers of a goods train and leaving the engine partially
The next day, 14 oil tankers of a goods train derailed
and caught fire after Naxals blew up railway lines between
Dighwara and Pipra stations in Bihar.

Two days later, two persons, including a policeman,
travelling in the Tatanagar-bound Steel Express, were injured
in crossfire between Naxals and joint forces at Banstala
station in West Midnapore.

Last month, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee told
Parliament that incidents of attacks by Naxals have nearly
doubled to 58 in 2009 from 30 in the previous year. In 2007,
56 such attacks were reported.

She admitted that because of such attacks Railways has
lost about Rs 500 crore.

"Railways has become a target of Naxals. We have lost
Rs 500 crore because of Naxal bandhs and obstructions," she
had said.

During the period of Naxal attacks, bandhs and rail
roko, train running has usually been badly affected. Attacks
on trains happen mainly in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand,
West Bengal, Orissa and Chhattisgarh, Banerjee had said.

According to officials, over 20 attacks alone were
reported in East Central Railway, the zone which witnessed an
attack on Delhi-bound Bhubaneswar Rajdhani express on March
Ten boggies of the train between Gaya and Mughalsarai
in Bihar were derailed after Maoists blasted rail tracks.

Concerned over the alarming regularity with which
Maoist-led attacks were taking place, Railways even suggested
to stop train movement during night time in the Central Indian
Coalfield areas (mostly the mineral rich places in states like
Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattishgarh) -- a proposal which is
being revisited today after the attack on Jnaneshwari express.

These stretches have been prone to increased Naxal
activities for several months now, prompting Railways to run
pilot engines ahead of Rajdhani express trains.

Each day, as many as eight Rajdhani trains pass
through this stretch, an important section of the Delhi-Howrah
trunk route, officials said.

Of the nearly 60 Maoist attacks reported last year,
South Eastern Railway saw most of them as 30 such attacks
being registered in the border districts of West Bengal and
Jharkhand under its jurisdiction.

One among them was the hijack of the Bhubaneswar-
Rajdhani Express last October to demand the release of Maoist-
backed convener of Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee
Chhatradhar Mahato. The train was released after eight hours.

Stepped-up Maoist attacks have also been reported on
the Howrah-Mumbai route between Kharagpur and Tatanagar
section and in Koraput-Rayagada belt where the Naxals have a
strong presence.
In November 2009, two passengers were killed and over
47 injured when eight boogies of the Tata-Bilaspur passenger
train derailed after Maoists blew up railway tracks in
Jharkhand`s West Singhbhum district.

Earlier in September, the rebels had triggered about a
dozen explosions blowing up railway tracks and at least four
government buildings in Sundargarh district of Orissa to
demand the release of 30 people who were arrested on the
suspicion that they were Maoists.

Over 20 heavily armed Maoists attacked the Roxy
railway station in the same district and blew it up after
asking the employees to move out.

They also abducted three persons, including the
station master, besides setting ablaze around 15 vehicles
parked near the small railway station used primarily for iron
ore transportation.