West Bengal wants armed escorts for trains passing through the Maoist stronghold areas between Kharagpur and Jamshedpur to prevent recurrence of holding up of trains. The government will send a proposal to this effect to the Railway Ministry.

On Tuesday, the Rajdhani Express from Bhubaneswar was detained for about five hours by the Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee near Jhargram town in West Bengal.

It has also been decided that the joint forces will continue their operations against Maoists.

Briefing the media on Wednesday after a high-power meeting reviewed the situation post-Tuesday’s incident, Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said about 30-40 trains pass through the Kharagpur-Jamshedpur section, of which a 45-km stretch between Kharagpur and Chandil was a very disturbed area. “We want the trains to have pilot engines with armed escorts,” Mr. Sen said.

The meeting, organised by Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty, was attended by police, Railway and RPF officials.

Mr. Sen said the government also favoured ‘sanitisation’ of the tracks. He, however, admitted that the measures would need resources — human and monetary.

To a question whether the government wanted these security measures to be put in place only during bandhs, the Home Secretary said these should be in place on a regular basis.

“None contacted us”

To a query why the State government did not try to hold a dialogue to lift the hold-up, Mr. Sen said this incident was totally different in nature. “Moreover, no one contacted us,” he said. Demands like ‘Release Chhatradhar Mahato’ were scrawled in red paint all over the train.