Maoists apologize for train blast
The landmine blast that ripped apart rail tracks at Ghagra, 50 km from Rourkela, on Thursday night, completely overturned two compartments of the Tata-Bilaspur Passenger and derailed eight other bogies. The train was carrying scores of vegetable vendors, farmers and daily labourers who shuttle between Poisaita and Manoharpur for work — the very class for which the Maoists avowedly wage their battle. Clearly on the back foot, the rebels apologized for the incident, saying the common man will not be targeted in the future. Maoist leader Samarji, secretary of the Bihar-Jharkhand-Orissa regional committee of CPI (Maoist), said there was no plan to blow up the tracks initially and the operation had been carried out in haste by “overzealous” new recruits against whom the party would take appropriate action. Maoist watchers say the attack on a passenger train would greatly erode the support Naxalites enjoy among the poor. Officially, two passengers died in the incident and 25 were seriously injured, but locals who aided rescue work disputed both figures. Villagers said scores of injured and dead were taken away to Orissa and Rourkela by three relief trains that arrived early on Friday. The accident site, 150 km from Jamshedpur, is in the middle of thick forests and flanked by low undulating hills. The tracks cut through the Saranda forest and are fenced off to prevent elephants from descending on them. The deafening blast at 9.12 pm was heard from Manohapur station, just 5 km away. “A terrifying silence prevailed in the area even as dazed passengers clambered off the train,” said a CRPF man who was among the first to reach the spot from Manoharpur. The first relief train arrived from Rourkela at 2.30 am. It was followed by two from Jamshedpur.