Railways soft target of Maoists in Bihar, Jharkhand

April 17th, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by admin  

Patna, April 17 (IANS) With at least three attacks in the past week, the railways have increasingly become a soft target for the Maoists in Bihar, the home state of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad. The rebels Wednesday night blew up a railway track near Nathganj railway station in Gaya on the Grand Chord section of the East Central Railway (ECR), about 100 km from here.

The Maoists also abducted six railway officials, including the station master of Nathganj, but released them later. The attack held up rail traffic for nearly seven hours.

“The railways has become a soft target for the Maoists, they take advantage of lack of adequate security,” admitted a railway official at the ECR headquarters in Hajipur, about 30 km from here.

“It is easy for Maoists to target railways, including tracks and stations, and attack Railway Police Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP),” another senior railway official said Thursday,requesting anonymity.

The latest attack came an hour before the end of the deadline of a 24-hour strike by the Maoists. The strike began Tuesday night with a similar attack on Fesar railway station in Aurangabad district on Gaya-Mughalsarai section of the ECR.

Then too the rebels held three railway officials captive for nearly four hours.

The neighbouring state of Jharkhand also is facing the onslaught of the Maoists. During the strike call, rebels Wednesday blasted rail track between the Hazaribagh Road and Parasnath railway stations in Giridih district of the state.

The attack affected rail traffic on the Grand Chord section of Jharkhand, the main line that connects eastern and northern India.

Similarly, last Sunday the Maoists attacked Jhajha railway station in Jamui district on the busy Patna-Howrah mainline section in Bihar, killing six people, including four policemen, and looted arms and ammunitions.

Shocked by the spate of attacks that has virtually caught them napping, the GRP and the RPF have been issued fresh orders to increase patrolling, deploy additional forces at stations and launch search operations.

“In last one week, the railways suffered loss in crores (tens of millions) after Maoists attacked railways stations, blasted railway tracks and has forced cancellation of many long route trains,” a railway official said.

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