Maoists hijack train, free it later (Fourth Lead)

April 22nd, 2009 - 3:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, April 22 (IANS) Maoists released a train carrying over 400 passengers over four hours after they hijacked it in Jharkhand’s Latehar district Wednesday, officials said. The incident was part of a spree of violence by the rebels ahead of the second phase of parliamentary polls in the state.
“The train has been released by Maoists and has moved from the station,” Latehar Deputy Commissioner of Police Sarvendu Thathagat told IANS on phone.

Around 200 Maoist rebels hijacked the train going from Barkakana to Mughalsarai (Uttar Pradesh) at Hehegada railway station, about 140 km from here.

The train was allowed to move 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,” said Thathagat.

Maoists had called for an indefinite shutdown 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 Palamau district, about 190 km from here.

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 Tuesday night. Eighteen government buildings, including nine schools, have been bombed in the last two weeks in the state.

The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has called for boycott of the Lok Sabha polls.

Eighteen people, including 10 security personnel, were killed in Maoist violence in the first phase of polls in Latehar district April 16.

Maoist rebels are active in 18 of the 24 districts of the state. Nearly 1,500 people have been killed in the last eight years in Maoist related violence in the state.

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