India has cut its lone rail link with Nepal after Kathmandu lodged a protest claiming the cross-border train was being used by Maoist guerillas to smuggle arms and ammunition into the landlocked kingdom. Quoting senior Home Ministry officials, the Indian Express newspaper reported that the train service had been suspended indefinitely to help Nepali authorities tackle the long-running Maoist insurgency. Severing the link to aid Kathmandu's fight against the rebels fits in with India's foreign policy. It not only supplies Nepal with helicopter gunships, automatic weapons and shares vital intelligence, but also has a policy of deporting Maoist rebels arrested in India. But outlawed Indian groups like the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and People's War Group (PWG) have forged strong operational and ideological links with their comrades in Nepal. According to Indian intelligence reports, MCC and PWG provide sanctuary to Maoist rebel commanders who slip across the border whenever there is a crackdown by the Royal Nepal Army. Acting on a tip-off last month, authorities in Ranchi arrested six Indians for selling weapons to Nepali Maoists. The Nepalis, who had come to take delivery of the arms consignment, escaped but Indian police seized AK-47 rifles, pistols and huge quantities of ammunition. The 56km-long railway from Jai Nagar in the Madhubani district of India's Bihar state to Bijalta in south Nepal dates back to the British raj and winds through a picturesque landscape. The six-coach border train is very popular with traders, budget travellers such as western backpackers and pilgrims travelling to Buddhist religious centres in Nepal. The Maoists' battle to topple the constitutional monarchy started in 1996. More than 7,300 people have been killed, including 200 since the latest peace talks collapsed. Kathmandu has accused communist groups in India, particularly outlawed left-wing outfits in Bihar and West Bengal province which share a 1,750km-long open border with Nepal, of training, arming and providing shelter to Maoist rebels. Analysts say Indian states adjoining Nepal's southern Terai region are the poorest in the country and there is strong sympathy for Maoists there. 'People on both sides of the border speak the same language and land ownership lies at the root of the escalating socio-political conflict,' said analyst Manojit Mitra.