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Media Watch

Posted by Admin on October 29, 2009

The Rajdhani Express hostage incident – Sudipto Muhuri, Sanhati

A TOI report dated 28th Oct 2009 titled “Maoists change tack, leave alone passengers ” ( http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ Maoists-change-tack-leave-alone-passengers/articleshow/5170116.cms) states –

Faced with an aggressive government campaign attacking them and their sympathisers for the indiscriminate killing that has become the hallmark of their strategy, Maoists seemed to be engaged in a re-think on using wanton violence in the “class struggle”. The train hijack and treatment of passengers pointed to a possible shift in the Maoist modus operandi with the hijackers making a conspicuous effort not to torment passsengers. As witness accounts poured in after the hijack crisis ended, Rajdhani Express passengers spoke about how they were left unharmed and how the hijackers were only interested in sending a message to the political establishment.

‘”

1. There has been a categorical denial as of now by the CPI (Maoist) and the adivasi organization PCAPA about being responsible for the seizure of the train.

2. The statement of ‘Maoists changing tack’ in this context, which the report suggests, begs the question: what has been the recent reporting on similar incidents?

Delving into reports from a couple of months back, Maoists did seize a train on 22nd April, 2009 as is reported in http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090423/jsp/frontpage/story_10862545.jsp.

This is what some of the passangers had to say according to the same report in The Telegraph –

the Naxalites gave us sattu and water to drink. Women and children were given bananas and cucumbers,” said another passenger, Ranjan Kumar Chandravanshi, from Garhwa. “We were scared, but when they dealt with us in a friendly manner, we felt at ease.”

Read The Telegraph report on train “hijack” by Maoists on April 22, 2009

SAIKAT CHATTERJEE AND SANTOSH K. KIRO

Ranchi/Daltonganj, April 22: Maoists stopped a train and held over 500 passengers hostage for more than four hours, deep in the forests of Latehar district today, apparently to “punish” the railways for having run trains on what was a daylong bandh called by them against the death of five villagers in a CRPF operation on April 15.

Acting on the eve of the second and last phase of elections in Jharkhand, a group of around 50 CPI(Maoist) cadre — their numbers grew later — stopped the Barkakana-Dehri-on-Sone-Mughalsarai (BDM) train at Hehegarha, about 50km from the Latehar district headquarters around 7.30am.

They held the passengers hostage, but fed them sattu and fruits, all the while assuring them that no one would be harmed. The train was allowed to leave around 11.40am.

Both home secretary J.B. Tubid and director-general of police V.D. Ram tried to underplay the incident, denying it was a Naxalite operation. “They were villagers and not Naxalites,” said Tubid, adding the men were demanding compensation for the families of those killed in the CRPF action.

A.K. Sarkar, the driver of the train that left Barkakana for Mughalsarai around 4am, and his assistant R.K. Kumar were the first to realise that something was amiss. “They came up to us and told me they were Naxalites. I couldn’t believe my ears. They told me not to move the train. Then they went to the compartments.”

Johnson, a resident of Ramgarh, recalls the ordeal. “Over 50 men, who introduced themselves as Naxalites, went around each compartment telling us we were being held captive. We were terrified, but they kept telling us no one would be harmed,” he said, explaining how he boarded the train to go to Daltongunj since all buses were off the road because of the 24-hour Bihar-Jharkhand Naxalite bandh.

Later, around 8am, another group of about 100 Naxalites — some of them armed — joined them and again went around compartments. “Soon, the Naxalites gave us sattu and water to drink. Women and children were given bananas and cucumbers,” said another passenger, Ranjan Kumar Chandravanshi, from Garhwa. “We were scared, but when they dealt with us in a friendly manner, we felt at ease.”

Today’s bandh was called against the killing of five residents of Barhania village under Barwadih block of Latehar district, about 20km from Hehegarha station, in a CRPF combing operation, a day before the first phase of polling.

The villagers have been demanding compensation of Rs 10 lakh for each of the victims’ families.

Latehar SP Hemant Toppo said the Naxalites released the train on their own, even before the police could act. “They sent us a message about their demands, including compensation and bringing the guilty to book. We sent back a message saying investigations were on. But they released the train, even before our message reached them.”

The Times of india reports on 28 October, 2009

Maoists change tack, leave alone passengers

NEW DELHI: Faced with an aggressive government campaign attacking them and their sympathisers for the indiscriminate killing that has become the hallmark of their strategy, Maoists seemed to be engaged in a re-think on using wanton violence in the “class struggle”.

The train hijack and treatment of passengers pointed to a possible shift in the Maoist modus operandi with the hijackers making a conspicuous effort not to torment passsengers.

As witness accounts poured in after the hijack crisis ended, Rajdhani Express passengers spoke about how they were left unharmed and how the hijackers were only interested in sending a message to the political establishment.

Indications of a possible change in stance comes at a time when the Centre has been aggressively attacking intelligentsia, supporters and human rights activists for espousing the Maoist cause, branding them as mere terrorists who had no ideological backing behind them.

In fact, a day earlier, the ministry of home affairs had condemned an attack on four CISF jawans in Chhattisgarh. It had questioned the motive behind attacking a police force that was protecting state-run corporation NMDC. The statement noted that NMDC was engaged in development of minerals, provided employment, promoted economic activity and undertook many welfare activities in the area as part of its corporate social responsibility.

This was the second major attack on CISF which, incidentally, is not engaged in any counter-naxal operations and is deployed to guard PSUs operating in Maoist-infested areas. Earlier in April, a group of Maoists had attacked the Nalco bauxite mines in Koraput, Orissa, killing 10 CISF personnel guarding the facility. Similarly, the beheading of inspector Francis Induwar in Ranchi had created a furore deepening the impression that naxal violence was targeting the common man.

The Centre’s offensive against Maoists across Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra and Orissa has seen rights activists invading seminar halls and media with stories of repression and police brutality. The state has retaliated by highlighting that naxalites have been killing innocent tribals, beheading policemen and blasting away symbols of development like two schools that were attacked in Jharkhand’s Giridih district on Tuesday.

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