Swift action forced kidnappers to retreat

After a high level meeting, it was decided to rush a crack team of joint forces to the spot. However, in order to sabotage the arrival of the forces, the Maoists, who had taken up positions in the thick jungles surrounding the spot where the train was detained, resorted to firing. A heavy exchange of fire took place between Manikpara and Jhargram.
Even though there was no report of any casualty except a gunshot injury to the driver of a police vehicle, reinforcements reached the area, forcing the Maoists to retreat.

It was only after sunset that the forces armed with heavy weapons and joined by Railway Police Force (RPF) personnel stormed the train from all sides and secured full control without any resistance from the Maoists and activists of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), who were believed to have fled the spot.

PCAPA activists who had earlier asked all the passengers to detrain, broke some glasspanes and wrote slogans on some of the coaches, saying “Chatradhar is not a criminal” and “We want Chatradhar’s release”. Shortly before sunset, the activists asked the passengers to board the train before disappearing into the nearby jungle.

Before leaving, they cautioned the drivers against driving the train away, saying there might be bombs or other obstructions on the tracks ahead. “While the activists did not physically harm us, we have not taken the risk of disobeying them,” assistant driver K G Rao told a regional TV channel.

The question that has been doing the rounds here is whether the Maoists have really been emboldened by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government’s weak response to the Maoists’ demand for a swap of 23 tribals, in exchange for police official Atindranath Dutta’s release.

Questions are also being raised as to why the state government declined to ban the Maoist outfit in the state even though it has been applying Central laws on the detained activists. Ironically, self-styled Maoist leader Kishenji vehemently denied any involvement of the ultras in Tuesday’s incident. “We were not involved in the kidnap. Neither did we call a bundh. The PCAPA has called a bundh which we support. They (PCAPA) want rail minister Mamata Banerjee to come and listen to their problems,” Kishenji said.

PCAPA leader Santhosh Patra also made the same demand. “If state government officials or the Railway Minister come, we’ll  release the drivers. If they come today, we will release them today. We have a 22-point demand. The joint forces are committing atrocities on us, branding us Maoists,” he said.

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