Terrorists belonging to the banned Communist outfit CPI (Maoist) blew up the railway track using explosives on the Howrah-Mumbai mainline between Sonua and Lotapahar stations in the Naxalite-infested West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand in the early hours of Monday. The area is a hundred kilometers southwest of Jamshedpur.
Manish Kumar Pathak, senior divisional commercial manager (Sr DCM), Chakradharpur division of South Eastern Railway (SER), said that around 2.15 am on Monday, the Station Manager of Sonua received information from a loco Pilot informing him he felt heavy jerking on the tracks between Lotapahar and Sonua stations. All train traffic on the Rourkela-Chakradharpur section was immediately suspended and 8 passenger trains and several goods trains had to be shunted at different stations of Chakradarpur, Sini, and Rourkela as a security measure.
This is how the day began after the Maoists had called for a day-long Bharat Bandh on Monday in support of the ongoing farmer’s protests. Posters informing about the Bandh had appeared in the area on Sunday itself. Banners, pamphlets, and posters found near the blast site said that the Maoist action was against the alleged suppression of people’s movement by the government. It is also alleged that this was revenge for the NIA arrest of a Maoist cadre named Singhrai Soren, an arms and ammunition smuggler, last week.
There are three main lines and train movement on the all those lines ground to a standstill for hours. Things would have been tragically different if the Geetanjali Express or the Ahmedabad-Howrah special Covid-19 Express that were in the vicinity had passed through instead of the goods train. Their target was allegedly the Howrah-Pune Azad Hind express which passes through the area at 2 in the morning. Hundreds would have lost their lives.
Railway patrolling teams were immediately dispatched for inspection along with security personnel, Railway Protection Force (RPF), and the State Police and started an investigation. It was found that the sabotagers had used explosives to blast the railway line and a one-meter-long piece of the track was missing and it was found around 35 meters from the site.
Traffic on the unaffected lines was restored early morning after inspection and security clearances were given to one around 7.15 am and another at 8.35 am. Restoration work on the damaged track began immediately and was cleared by 9.35 am. Train movement was restored and an inquiry has been ordered.
Elsewhere, police and CRPF joint team foiled a Maoist land mine IED blast bid at Rengarbera village under Goilkera police station in the same district on Monday. Sudhir Kumar, deputy superintendent of police (DSP), said that “A team of CRPF along with bomb detection and disposal squad ) of Jharkhand Jaguar recovered an IED planted under a flag pole on Rebgarbera-Arahasa road. They safely blasted the IED, which otherwise could have inflicted major damage to forces and villagers,”.
Interestingly this comes at a time when the railways are at the forefront in collecting and delivering much-needed medical oxygen to all corners of Bharat. Who would sabotage tracks at this stage when the whole nation is trying to balance the supply of the life-saving element? Incidentally, Jharkhand-based industries have supplied almost 5,500 metric tonnes of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) to date to Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Maoist activities had been relatively subdued till late 2019 and they were pushed back on their backfoot by our security forces. All the good work done seems to be coming undone since a new government came to power in the state, early last year, which has decided to focus on ‘priority’ issues like separating Sarnas from the Hindu identity. Maoists now seem to steadily gain ground in this mineral-rich state.
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