At the Bhalui halt where the Maoist attack took place in Bihar on Thursday, some Naxals first got on to the train and pulled the chain to stop it, Vidya Bhushan Pandey, in-charge of the Reserve Protection Special Force (RPSF) escort party on the fateful train told The Hindu.

“The train left the Kundar halt and covered a small distance when over 150 Naxals, including women laid siege to the train between Jamui and Kundat halt. Some of them first got into the train and pulled the chain to stop it and started firing indiscriminately. They also used bombs in the attack,” Mr. Pandey told The Hindu over telephone from the Kiul junction.

Mr. Pandey was stationed in the fourth last bogey of the train. Some of his colleagues were positioned in the front of the train. The train totally had five escort personnel, comprising tge Railway Protection Force (RPF) and three RPSF – the armed wing of RPF. The jawans were carrying one AK 47 rifle, two INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifles and a 9mm pistol.

Constable Sukhdeo Deonath of the fifth RPSF battalion was killed in the attack.

“As soon as the firing started panic-stricken passengers raised an alarm. One passenger sleeping on the upper berth was also injured. In order to protect themselves, the passengers shut the windows. The train guard was shot in his right shoulder,” Mr. Pandey said.

The escort party tried to calm them. “We warned them against getting of the train. That would have resulted in more casualties. We simply tried to console them and told them not to be scared.” 

The firing lasted for over 30 minutes.

The Bhalui halt falls where the incident took place falls between the Naxal-dominated Jamui and Lakhisarai districts. “It is a no-man’s land marked by jungle and hills,” Deepak Barnwal, superintendent of police, Jamui told The Hindu.