West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday ruled out conceding Maoist-backed activists’ demand for calling off security operations against Left-wing extremists and releasing leaders of the Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC).
“We just cannot withdraw our forces [from the Lalgarh area where the operations are on]. We just cannot release the criminals[the arrested including PSBJC convener Chhatradhar Mahato]….We just cannot accept these demands,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.
The demands were raised by the PSBJC leadership, which is backed by the Maoists, as condition for releasing two drivers of the New Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express held hostage and for allowing the train, detained near the Jhargram station in Paschim Medinipur district, to resume its journey.
Later in the evening, the security forces reached the spot and by the time they cordoned off the train, the agitators had dispersed.
Recounting the incidents, Mr. Bhattacharjee said the drivers “were simply thrown out” of their cabin and surrounded by the agitators on a field near the track.
He pointed out that the agitators, who included Maoists as well as those belonging to the PSBJC, were armed when they held up the train. The police were instructed to close in on the train with the utmost caution, as the first such attempt had met with armed resistance from the extremists during which the driver of a police vehicle was injured.