Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rising Naxal attacks on trains worry Mamata

Marya Shakil / CNN-IBN

New Delhi: The Railways seem to have become an easy target of Naxal attacks.

In a recent attack, Naxals blew up a railway track in Jharkhand on Thursday night derailing eight bogies of a passenger train in which at least one person was killed and 29 others injured.

Earlier, they held up a Delhi-bound Rajdhani express train in West Midnapore district of West Bengal as the nation watched helplessly.

Over 8000 route kilmoteres of rail tracks are in the three Naxal dominated states of Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The Railways have more than one lakh trackmen who physically inspect the rail lines.

“How can the track be totally secured unless you have a man standing guard at every 100 metres. This kind of arrangement if the state government can do the entire track can be secured but it is a very costly affair,” says former Railways Engineering member, R R Jaruhar.

Technology is also used to keep a track on movement of trains but it detects technical faults. It can’t preempt a possible sabotage plot.

“We need to improve our intelligence gathering machinery through the state government, police, Ministry of Home Affairs and ensure better dissemination if that intelligence,” suggests former Railway Board chairman J P Batra.

At present there are six to seven policemen on board trains but most of them are on the Rajdhanis and Shatabdis.

Looking at the increasing attacks on trains, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked the Government not to assign election duties to Railway Police Force (RPF) personnel and let them guard the trains.

If this proposal is passed by the Government it would be the first concrete step in making trains safer for the passengers.

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