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Freed Rajdhani Express resumes journey


Jhargram: The New Delhi-bound Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express resumed its journey after a nerve-wracking saga when Maoist rebels held it hostage for over four hours at a station in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district.

Escorted by a pilot engine, the train, freed by security forces, moved ahead from Banstala Halt station, where the Left-wing ultras held it and its 667 passengers hostage for over four hours.

Police sources said the green signal for the train to chug out of the halt station was given only after security experts conducted an intense check of the tracks and the train for any explosive devices the Maoist ultras might have planted.

“The Maoists had ordered all the passengers to get out of the train. The rebels then boarded the train. Later, they allowed the passengers to re-enter the train. So we wanted to be completely sure that the Maoists have not planted any explosives in the train or under it,” said the senior police official.

Meanwhile, before decamping the Left-wing extremists had pasted posters on the train demanding the release of arrested Maoist-backed tribal body People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) leader Chhattradhar Mahato.

Demanding withdrawal of the joint security forces and release of some of their arrested leaders, around 500 members of the PCAPA held up the Express train by squatting on the tracks and forced out the drivers around 2.45 p.m. at the Banstala Halt station, near Jhargram station close to the Antapani jungle.

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.