Security forces begin hunt for West Bengal train attackers


Jhargram (West Bengal) : Security forces Wednesday began combing the jungles near Jhargram in West Midnapore district to hunt down the Maoist-backed rebels who held the Bhubaneswar-Delhi Rajdhani Express and its 667 passengers hostage Tuesday.

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Apart from the Antapani jungles near Jhargram town, paramilitary forces and the police conducted door-to-door searches in several adjoining villages to look for Maoist guerrillas and members of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) responsible for the daring attack on the express train.

“We are carrying out search operations to nab the culprits,” said a district police officer.

PCAPA leader Asit Mahato, meanwhile, alleged that people were fleeing from 15 villages in the area between Banstala and Manikpara “as they are unable to bear the torture by the security forces”.

Inspector General of Police (Western Range) Kuldip Singh told IANS: “We are doing whatever is needed to be done to provide foolproof security to passengers and railway staff”.

A district police officer said a new group called the ‘Sidhu-Kanu Gana Militia’ raised by the PCAPA could have fomented the trouble Tuesday.

But Kuldip Singh did not confirm the existence of any such group. “I have no information on this new outfit. For us, the PCAPA and the Maoists are the same.”

The police officer said a clear idea about whether any such outfit had been formed would emerge only after the arrest and interrogation of some of the suspects.

On Tuesday, around 500 PCAPA members had held up the Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express for more than four hours at Banstala Halt near Jhargram station by squatting on the tracks and forcing out the drivers at the Halt station near the Antapani jungle.

After several tension-filled hours, which saw a police team proceeding 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.

All the passengers were safe.