Kolkata: Maoists targeted Railways - the nation's lifeline - blasting tracks to derail the Rajdhani Express and throw train services haywire in vast parts of eastern India on the second and final day of a shutdown in seven states on Tuesday.
The Maoists have called the protest in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh besides three districts of Maharashtra - Bhandara, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli - to oppose a sweeping crackdown on them.
The guerrillas also killed a policeman and a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader besides abducting four traders.
The Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express derailed after the rebels blasted a rail track in Bihar's Gaya district late Monday, leading to the cancellation of three trains and diversion of 17, police said.
Eight coaches, including the engine, went off the tracks between Paraiya and Kastha stations on the Gaya-Mughalsarai section, about 100 km from Patna.
"Maoists blew up three to four feet of railway track," Inspector General of Police SK Bhardawaj said over the phone from the accident site.
According to Railway sources, three trains, including the Patna-Ranchi Janshatabdi, were cancelled.
Seventeen trains, including the New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani Express, were diverted from Mughalsarai to Patna.
A pamphlet left at the site by the Maoists claimed responsibility for the incident.
In Orissa, Maoists blew up rail tracks and derailed an empty freight train Tuesday with a landmine, hitting rail services on the Howrah-Mumbai route.
The incident took place between Bishra and Bandhamunda stations around 1.30 am in Sundergarh district, over 500 km from Bhubaneswar.
According to VK Srivastav, a senior Divisional Commercial Railway Manager, three wagons of the Manoharpur-bound train were also damaged.
Several long distance trains were stranded at different stations due to the sabotage.
In West Bengal, train services were disrupted for several hours as the Left radicals blew up a railway track in West Midnapore district.
The Maoists triggered a landmine between Gidhni and Khatkura stations of South Eastern Railway causing heavy damage to the down line.
A South Eastern Railway spokesman said several trains had to be detained or diverted due to the explosions in West Bengal and neighbouring Orissa.
The ultras also shot dead CPI-M leader Hemanta Pradhan of West Midnapore's Kuldiha village.
In Jharkhand, a policeman died in Sareikela-Kharsawan district after Maoists opened fire on a police patrol party near Chouka police station around 1.30 am.
Suspected Maoists also abducted four traders from Jharkhand's Bokaro district.
First Published: Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 15:48