|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Maoists blow up railway tracks in Bihar, Lalu slams Nitish
March 01, 2009 13:09 IST
The banned Communist Party of India-Maoist rebels blasted railway tracks in Bihar's Jamui district and torched a portion of the Ratanpur station in adjoining Munger early on Sunday during a bandh called by them, disrupting train services on the Patna-Howrah main line for more than 7 hours.
Heavily armed Maoist ultras blasted the up and down tracks near a culvert close to the Bhalui halt between Jamalpur and Kiul stations in Jamui district around 2 am, barely 15 minutes after the Howrah-Motihari Mithila Express crossed the section.
The blast uprooted both the up and down tracks and damaged the overhead traction wires, chief public relations officer of East Central Railway A K Chandra told PTI.
At least seven trains, including the Sealdah-Delhi Lalquila Express, the Howrah-Amritsar Punjab Mail and the Patna-Howrah Janshatabdi Express, were stranded at different railway stations following the blast.
"The tracks have been repaired and normal traffic restored at 9.30 am on both up and down lines," Chandra said.
The incidents drew sharp criticism from the Railway Minister Lalu Prasad who slammed the state government for its alleged failure to protect railway property from attacks by the Maoists.
In another incident in Munger, nearly a score of Maoist cadres beat up the station master of Ratanpur on Kiul-Bhagalpur section just past midnight and set ablaze a portion of the station building.
The track-changing panel and documents in the cabin of station master Lalit Kumar were gutted in the fire, Railway sources said. The rail traffic was, however, unaffected, the sources added.
DIG (Munger range) Amit Kumar and Munger Superintendent of Police Sunil Kumar rushed to the spot to supervise combing operations to apprehend the culprits, Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Neelmani told PTI.
The Railway Minister criticised the state government for the repeated attacks on Railway property by Maoists.
"The Maoists blasted railway tracks twice last year at the same place near Bhalui halt, but the state government has failed to do anything to prevent recurrence of such incidents," Prasad, who was away in his home district Gopalganj to inaugurate the newly created Thave railway division, told PTI by phone.
"The Railways are the lifeline of the country and we cannot protect every inch of the tracks. It is the duty of the state to ensure the safety of lakhs of people who travel by train every day and the Nitish Kumar government has failed in it," he said.
This was the second attack by the Maoists on Railway property since the beginning of the 24-hour bandh by Maoists on Saturday morning.
Bhalulata station was razed and two Railway officials went missing in a simultaneous attack on Chandiposh station in Orissa's Sundergarh district in the early hours of Saturday.
The Maoists had called the 24-hour bandh in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh protesting the arrest of their top commanders, including central committee member Satyendra Kushwaha in Bihar's Rohtas district on February 25.