Passengers Relieved as Rajdhani Express Hostage Crisis Ends

The New Delhi-bound Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express resumed its journey after security forces freed it from the clasp of Maoist rebels who held it hostage along with over 660 passengers for over four nerve wracking hours at the Banstola station in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district on Tuesday.

The train was escorted by a pilot engine after security experts combed the train and the tracks for any explosives the rebels may have planted.

“The Maoists had ordered all the passengers to get out of the train. The rebels then boarded the train. Later, they allowed the passengers to re-enter the train. So we wanted to be completely sure that the Maoists have not planted any explosives in the train or under it,” a senior police official was quoted as saying.

Making good their escape, the rebels pasted posters on the train seeking the release of People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) leader Chhattradhar Mahato.

Earlier some 500 members of the PCAPA had held up the train squatting on the tracks and demanding the release of some of their leaders and a withdrawal of the joint security forces.

The passengers ordeal only came to an end at around 1900 hours when CRPF troopers and the state policemen took control over the train.

Meanwhile, six trains were cancelled and as many diverted.

The cancelled trains were Kharagpur-Tatanagar passenger, Kharagpur-Tatanagar MEMU, Tatanagar-Kharagpur passenger, Howrah-Tatanagar Steel Express, Howrah-Korapur Express and Howrah-Ranchi-Hatia Express.

The railways diverted include Puri-New Delhi Neelachal Express, Dibrugarh Town-Chennai Express, Puri-Hardwar Utkal Express, Howrah-Mumbai Geetanjali Express and Shalimar-Kurla Express.

The Railways Helplines may be contacted at Howrah (033-2641-3043 and 10722, Kharagpur (1072), Tatanagar (0657-2290324), (0657-2290382) and Bhubaneswar (0674-2303100).

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