Maoist violence rocks eastern India (Fifth Lead)

April 22nd, 2009 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi/Patna/Kolkata, April 22 (IANS) Maoist insurgents went on the rampage in the eastern states of Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal Wednesday, hijacking a train, blowing up buildings, setting trucks on fire, killing a truck driver and triggering landmine blasts.
Around 200 Maoist rebels hijacked a train carrying over 400 passengers at Hehegada railway station in Jharkhand’s Latehar district. The train was going from Barkakana to Mughalsarai in Uttar Pradesh.

The guerrillas released the train more than four hours later, at about 11.40 a.m.

“Nobody was harmed at any point of time and all passengers are safe,” said A.K. Chandra, chief public relations officer (East Central Railway).

“Maoists had hijacked the train to protest against the railways not stopping train services although the rebels had called for a shutdown in the state,” Latehar Deputy Commissioner of Police Sarvendu Thathagat told IANS on phone.

Maoists had called for an indefinite shutdown in the state to protest the killing of five people in Latehar April 15. While security forces branded them rebels, Maoists said they were innocent villagers.

The guerrillas have demanded compensation of Rs.1 million for the families of each of those killed. They also want action to be taken against the security forces involved in the incident.

On Tuesday night, over 50 Maoist rebels bombed Utari Road railway station and also destroyed a nearby track in Jharkhand’s Palamau district.

Police said the militants had planned to target the New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express, which was to pass through the station 30 minutes after the blast. The route of the train was changed after the incident.

Maoist rebels also blew up a school and health centre in Narayanpur village in Chatra district of Jharkhand Tuesday night.

In Bihar, suspected Maoists killed a truck driver and set ablaze nine trucks in Gaya district and bombed a block office in Aurangabad district early Wednesday.

Over 100 armed Maoists attacked trucks on the busy Grand Trunk Road near Barachatti in Gaya at around 12.30 a.m. They stopped the trucks at gun point and torched nine of them.

A truck driver, Lakshman Yadav, was shot dead while trying to escape with his truck.

A group of armed Maoists also bombed the Dev block development office in Aurangabad district.

“They used explosives. The building was badly damaged,” said Gaya Superintendent of Police M.R. Naik.

In West Bengal, Maoists triggered four landmine blasts targeting the police in Salboni area of West Midnapore district. However, no one was injured in the explosions.

Superintendent of Police (West Midnapore) Manoj Verma told IANS that the blasts occurred in the Salboni police station area when a police party had gone to fetch the bodies of the two Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) activists who were killed by the Maoists Monday.

“The blasts took place at a little distance from the advancing police party. It is clear the police were the targets of the Maoists,” Verma said.

The second phase of the parliamentary elections will be held in Bihar and Jharkhand Thursday. The Maoists have called for a boycott of the elections but the places where the rebels struck Wednesday had gone to the polls April 16.

In West Bengal, the first of the three-phase poll will be held April 30.

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