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No railway track security recommendation for Maoist areas

Raktima Bose


Panel set up by West Bengal after Jnaneswari Express tragedy

“Dilly-dallying attitude of State government results in pecuniary loss for Railways”


KOLKATA: Even as security concerns have forced the South Eastern Railway authorities to suspend night-movement of passenger trains in the Kharagpur-Rourkela and Kharagpur-Adra sections for more than three months now, the committee set up by the West Bengal government to propose security measures for safer rail services in the State, in the wake of the Jnaneswari Express derailment incident, is yet to come up with a recommendation.

The committee constitutes the State's Additional Director-General (Railway), Chief Security Commissioners of SER and Eastern Railway, divisional railway managers of the two zones and the State's Inspector-General of Police (Western Range).

It was set up on June 18 following the death of 150 passengers in the Jnaneswari Express sabotage on May 28, allegedly orchestrated by the Maoists.

Met only once

Since the day it came into being, the committee, however, met only once on June 29 where the officials discussed about the prospects of deploying Central Reserve Police Force personnel for safeguarding railway tracks in the Maoist-affected region and it was decided that a detailed report would be prepared by the ADG (Railway) on this account.

Asked about the status of the aforesaid report on Thursday, the State's ADG (Railway) Dilip Mitra, said the process has been delayed due to “certain snags” though he refused to elaborate about the snags.

“The committee will be meeting again next week. Let us see what are the outcomes and then we can decide,” Mr. Mitra told The Hindu.

Incidentally, even as the Railway ministry requested the Ministry of Home Affairs to deploy CRPF personnel for track surveillance, the latter can deploy the same only after receiving a formal nod from the State government on the issue.

A senior Railway Protection Force official said the “dilly-dallying attitude of the State government” is eventually resulting in pecuniary loss for the Railways.

“Apart from the suspension of daily night-time running of trains in the two sections, services in the Maoist-affected Purulia-Chandil and Kotshila-Jhalda sections in Purulia districts have to be suspended during Maoist bandhs. With the State Government not confident about providing security to railway tracks, there is no other way but to suspend operations,” the senior official said.

“No response”

Meanwhile, reacting to recent reports that the Central Bureau of Investigation has pointed fingers towards lapse on part of the SER authorities to have run trains in the region on May 28 even as the Maoists were observing ‘black day' at the time, the senior RPF official said the SER authorities had sought the State government's advice on the issue twice but received no response.

“The General Manager of SER had written to the State's Chief Secretary twice on September 2009 and March 2010 – seeking advice whether or not it is safe to run trains on these sections during Maoist bandhs. But there was no reply from the other end,” he pointed out.

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