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Orissa, state police comb forests

Posted by Admin on September 12, 2009

488650357_87e4ef1f30OUR BUREAU

Sept. 11: Central paramilitary forces and police of two states continue to grope in the dark more than 36 hours after armed Maoists abducted five railway employees from Topadih station, 180km from Jamshedpur, in Sundergarh district of neighbouring Orissa.

And, if sources are to be believed, it is lack of co-ordination between the security teams that is impeding search for the missing men.

A squad of 40 CPI(Maoist) rebels swooped on Topadih, which falls under Bandamunda junction of Chakradharpur railway division, and whisked away senior station master Netrananda Majhi, assistant station master Upendra Kumar and porters Mohammed Taz, S.C. Majhi and R.N. Mohanto around 3am yesterday.

The rebels left a message on the wall, saying that they would let the railway men go only if 30 “innocent” villagers in Orissa police custody were released unconditionally.

About 200 posters were also pasted in Bisra village, 18km from Rourkela, asking police to stop “exploiting and torturing” innocent tribals.

Rourkela superintendent of railway police R.K. Bal said the south Chhotanagpur zonal committee of the CPI(Maoist) had claimed responsibility for the abduction in the wall writing. He said the five victims might have been brought to Kiriburu jungle in the Saranda forest division of West Singhbhum.

A joint operation is being conducted by Jharkhand and Orissa police in Saranda and Sundergarh. “The Special Operations Group of Orissa police is combing Saranda forest with the help of Jharkhand police,” said Rourkela SP Diptesh Patnaik.

Chakradharpur divisional railway manager Ravindra Gupta said they were in “constant touch” with the Orissa police, but claimed the rebels were keeping the victims in Sundergarh.

West Singhbhum superintendent of police Akhilesh Kumar Jha was equally vague. He said the state police and paramilitary forces were conducting a search in Saranda, but admitted that they had no clue where the railway employees were being held captive.

Sources in the railway claimed that the combing operations had not begun in earnest. “There are companies of CRPF, IRB and RPF, besides the Sundergarh and East Singhbhum police, but lack of proper co-ordination between the team may botch up the operation,” said a railway official, not willing to be named.

He added that the RPF was still waiting for sniffer dogs and the bomb disposal squad.

SRP Bal admitted the pace of search was slow, but denied lack of co-ordination between the forces. He said the rebels had triggered violence in at least seven places in Sundergarh, including Topadih, on Thursday.

“The district police is currently being accompanied by the bomb squad. The RPF will get their help tomorrow to defuse a bomb that was planted at Topadih,” he said.

The Topadih station, between Kiriburu and Vimalgarh, is a freight line. Train services along the route remained disrupted today, as security teams inspected the tracks for hidden bombs.

Meanwhile, worried family members of the five missing men have made an appeal to the rebels through the media. “My husband is innocent. I request the CPI(Maoist) to release him,” said Vishakha Majhi, wife of senior station master Netrananda. TT

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