The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naxalites raid rail armoury
- Rebels walk away with arms and ammo

Chandrapura (Bokaro), April 14: A week after chief secretary A.K. Mishra issued a stern warning to Naxalite outfits, the Maoist Communist Centre struck with a vengeance, emptying the Government Railway Police armoury at Chandrapura station without facing any resistance whatsoever.

The rebels — an army of over 150 men and 50 women —stormed the station, about 40 km from Bokaro, at 11.30 this morning and walked away with 23 rifles, two sten guns, 540 cartridges and Rs 20,000 in cash towards Ghatiyari village. Two GRP personnel, including officer-in-charge Prashant Hembrom, were hurt.

Suspected MCC rebels also exploded landmines at Manatu in Palamau around 9 this morning, in which six policemen, including five from the CRPF, were injured. A rebel was shot in the encounter that ensued. Sources said the intention was “to ambush and loot police weapons”.

In another incident at Barwadih in Latehar district, suspected People’s War rebels were engaged in an encounter with police after which arms and ammunition were recovered.

Coal belt deputy inspector-general of police H.K. Mishra and Bokaro police superintendent Tadasha Mishra are camping at the site. Director-general of police R.R. Prasad has rushed to Chandrapura.

Sources said the rebels were led by Kanhai Chatterjee’s widow Nirmala, who was recently assigned the task of leading the Naxalite outfit in the central and Jhumra areas of the region. Among the women who attacked the station, some were from Nepal, sources said.

“Around one dozen women in their twenties entered the platform from the eastern side while another group of around the same number of women, all well armed, came from the main gate. They instantly took control of the entire platform and then called their associates,” said a witness on the platform.

“The women were followed by armed men chanting anti-police slogans. They first entered the room of station superintendent R.M. Roy and snapped off the phone line. Another group took the entire GRP team stationed on platform 1 hostage and then began looting the arms,” a railway official said.

The GRP personnel were having lunch when the Naxalites struck. “The policemen were attacked by the rebels and as officer-in-charge Prashant Hembrom tried to pull out his revolver, he was thrashed by the extremists. GRP policeman Ram Ayodhya Prasad was beaten up after he fell down while trying to escape,” police sources said.

Witnesses said the rebels decamped with a lot of weapons but left much of the money untouched.

“They did not touch the railway money nor enter the ticket counter where more than Rs 1 lakh was kept. The looting continued for some 30 minutes. All this while, the railway employees, GRP personnel and passengers present on the platform were kept as hostages,” they said.

Sources said the rebels also sprayed bullets on a diesel locomotive standing on platform 1. “Before attacking the GRP men, the extremists asked the passengers to remain where they were. ‘We do not want to harm you. We have come to teach a lesson to the policemen’, said one of them. Before escaping, they lobbed four crude bombs but no one was hurt,” witnesses said.

Suresh Mahto, a betel shop owner near the station, said the Naxalites came to the station in four batches. “The women came on trekkers and buses. Before escaping in three different directions, they shouted ‘Khoon ka badla khoon se lenge. Yeh to abhi jahnki hai, puri film baaki hai’”, they said.

This is the first incident of extremists targeting a railway station in the region. The MCC training camp on Jhumra Pahad in Bokaro district has turned into a major headache for the police.

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