Terror on the tracks

Special forces freed an express train detained by Maoists in Bihar's Lakhisarai district early on Thursday morning. Around 150 commandos of CRPF's CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) cracked down on the rebels after they detained the Danapur-Durg Express between Bhalui and Urain stations around midnight on Wednesday. The Maoists also blew up a telecom tower in the area around 5 am.

The attack took place on the last day of the week long bandh called by the rebels in the state from July 28. The bandh coincided with the `martyr week' observed by Maoists to remember their men killed in encounters.

A CRPF officer involved in the operation said the Maoists attacked railway cabins near Bhalui and Urain stations (4-5 km apart), forced the staff to turn the track signals red and abducted the gateman.

Seeing the red signal, the Danapur-Durg Express stopped near Bhalui Halt. The Maoists laid siege to the train and forced the cabin staff to pass on the message to their seniors about the strike. They addressed passengers on a public address system from the fields nearby, asking them to remain seated. The officer said the scared passengers switched off lights and locked the coaches.

The encounter began around 4.30 am once CoBRA commandos reached the spot. The Maoists, however, fled, releasing the gateman a few kilometres away. Maoist commander Pravesh Da is suspected to be the mastermind behind the attack, sources said.

East Central Railway PRO R K Singh said train movement on the Delhi-Howrah line was disrupted.“Traffic could be resumed at 7 am,“ he said. At least 24 trains were delayed.

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