The Telegraph
Sunday , August 4 , 2013
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Close shaves, home and away

- Rajdhani escapes Maoist wrath

(Top) A policeman collects evidence from the blast site at Paraiya in Gaya district. (Above) A note left behind by the Maoists at Paraiya station. Pictures by Suman

Gaya/Patna, Aug. 3: Hundreds of passengers bound for New Delhi on the Calcutta (Howrah) Rajdhani Express had a providential escape last night as the Maoists blew up tracks near Gaya.

The 12301 Rajdhani Express was to take the Up tracks and the rebels blew up a portion — around one-and-a half-feet — of the Down line. However, a couple of sleepers of the Up tracks were dislodged because of the explosion triggered by can bombs, a favourite among the Maoists.

The explosion took place just two minutes after the pilot locomotive — introduced by the railways to clear the path for high-security trains after the 2002 tragedy in which at least 130 people died during an accident involving the same Rajdhani Express in Naxalite-hit Aurangabad district’s Rafiganj — passed the blast site around 10.50pm. The Rajdhani Express was to pass the site — between pole numbers 428/01 and 427/28 of Paraiya and Guraru stations on the Grand Chord section of Mughalsarai division — within five minutes.

“The pilot locomotive driver, Sudhir Kumar, had seen smoke coming out of the blast site and also 10 to 12 people along the tracks,” Amitabh Prabhakar, the East Central Railway chief public relations officer, said.

After the blast, the rebels attacked a railway crossing gate cabin, a few metres from the blast site, torching a machine used to lift and bring down the bar of the gate. They also burnt papers and beds belonging to gatemen Satish and Jamuna. “Two armed persons came and forced us to open the door, which we had closed in fear after hearing the deafening blast. They fired one shot in the air and asked us to come out of the cabin. They took us to some distance and snatched our cellphones. After around 20 minutes, they gave us back our phones and asked us to inform the Paraiya and Guraru stations to stop movement of trains,” Satish said.

Driver Kumar said he had also informed the Paraiya assistant stationmaster about the blast at 10.52pm. The Rajdhani Express was stopped at the station, just 3km from the blast site, overnight till 6.25am today. Movement of at least 19 trains, including the Sealdah Rajdhani, Bhubaneswar Rajdhani and Ranchi Rajdhani, was disrupted for several hours.

Patna superintendent of railway police Upendra Kumar Sinha and deputy superintendent of railway police Sunil Kumar visited the blast site today. DSRP Kumar said, after reviewing the existing security arrangements, directions have been given for deployment of personnel, including State Auxiliary Police jawans, commandos and dog squad.

Additional superintendent of police Ashok Kumar Singh, who is also has additional charge of Gaya city SP, said: “Samples from the blast site have been collected. We will send those to the state forensic science laboratory to ascertain about the type of explosive used in triggering the blast. Police have recovered two pamphlets left by the Maoists and wires from the spot.”

One of the posters read: “The police should stop torturing common people.”

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