Alert on tracks amid sabotage fear

Alert on tracks amid sabotage fear

The Central Railway has stepped up security across its Bhusawal division, which includes Nashik Road station, following fear of sabotage in some of the recent train accidents. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has teamed up with the Government Railway Police (GRP) to step up patrolling across the tracks in the division to avert any untoward incident that could damage life and properties.

“We have asked our men to ensure there are no loose ends in security and directed the engineering department to ensure the goods used by them were kept in their custody. No one should fiddle with those. We have also sought the GRP’s assistance for areas beyond the reach of RPF,” a senior officer from the divisional security office said.

On Wednesday, a train accident was averted on Wednesday when villagers informed the railway authorities just before the New Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express (12236) was to pass that the fishplates and joint vaults of the rail tracks near Mansi along the Barauni-Katihar section of East Central Railway’s Sonepur division in Bihar.

Railway officials repaired the track after the villagers alerted the Mansi station master about the missing fishplates. Police investigating the matter suspected it to be the work of some antisocial elements. Wednesday’s incident might have been another sabotage attempt; last Monday, a crude bomb was set off on the railway tracks near Buxar in Bihar, the police said.

The railways has witnessed an “unusual” jump in “sabotage” cases in recent days with the transporter reporting around 18 such incidents in less than 40 days of 2017, causing serious concern over safety of train operations. Sabotage attempts by placing boulders, concrete slab, stone slab or rail pieces on tracks across the country — from Lucknow division, Mumbai, Waltair, Allahabad and Malda — were foiled by vigilant railway staff in recent days. Faced with a series of rail mishaps allegedly due to “sabotage”, the railway brass has issued directives to all employees and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to remain alert and intensify patrolling.

In the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, railway minister Suresh Prabhu expressed concern over the “unusual” activities reported in the past few days, alleging that attempts were made to sabotage rail tracks and carry out explosions. He said there were seven “blast attempts” and three cases of attempted sabotage, among others.

There have been incidents in Mumbai where objects have been laid on tracks with an apparent motive to disrupt train services and cause damage to people’s lives and Railway properties. “Keeping all this in mind, the engineering teams have been instructed to ensure that all their equipment used along the tracks are in the custody of the gang men,” an RPF officer said.

The railway official said as part of the regular patrolling at night, gang men from two neighbouring stations trek the tracks towards each other, correct the loose ends, meet at pre-decided points and return to their respective stations. “If the gang men spot anything objectionable, they immediately alert senior railway officials, They take corrective measures and, if necessary, also stop trains,” the railway officer said.

Similarly, the GRP is seeking help of local intelligence to get clues before any the anti-social elements strike. “The local intelligence comes handy at times. We are in touch with the local crime branch to figure out if there is any movement along the tracks,” the officer added.

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