| A Railway Protection Force personnel stands guard at Kokrajhar railway station in Assam. (PTI) |
Passengers on trains passing through sections of Naxalite-hit Jamui district have been left at the mercy of the rebels and criminals after security escorts were recently withdrawn reportedly because of ethnic violence in Assam.
Several long-distance trains, including Howrah-Danapur Superfast Express and Patna-Dhanbad Intercity Express, pass the 95-km-stretch of the Kiul-Tulsitard main section. A unit of Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) used to escort the trains from Danapur, on the outskirts of Patna, to Jhajha, 160km southeast of the state capital. (Kiul is 105km southeast of Patna on the way to Jhajha.) After Jhajha, the Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel escort trains another 40km to Tulsitand on the Jharkhand border.
However, since July 25, the personnel escorting the trains have been withdrawn.
Though senior officers entrusted with the task of maintaining security of the passengers refused to comment on the withdrawal of the personnel, sources in the RPSF said they have been sent to Kokrajhar, Assam, in the wake of the ongoing ethnic clashes.
Inspector-general of police (railways) Vinay Kumar could not be contacted despite repeated attempts, RPF senior divisional security commandant (Danapur) Pranav Kumar refused to say anything on the issue. A source in the RPSF, however, said: “The escorts on the trains have been withdrawn because the RPSF personnel have been sent to protect trains in Kokrajhar.”
Clashes between members of the Bodo community and immigrants from Bangladesh have affected train services in the northeastern state.
“We have informed the officials concerned about the lack of security on trains and requested them to provide adequate security,” the source said.
Regular passengers on trains passing through the section are alarmed over the withdrawal of security.
S.R. Poddar, the president of Jamui Chamber of Commerce, told The Telegraph: “The situation is alarming for the passengers. The region is notorious for crime on trains. If there is no security, the situation could aggravate.”
He added: “We have decided to approach the railway minister and higher authorities immediately.”
Rajiv Singh, another frequent commuter on the section, said: “Absence of security could lead to more such incidents.”
The concern of Poddar and others is not baseless. On June 5 this year, armed criminals committed daylight robbery on a Mumbai-bound train passing through Jamui.
The GRP, however, claimed that they were helpless because they did not have enough personnel to provide security to all trains.
“The RSPF used to help us by escorting some of the important trains. But these trains are now running without any escort,” a GRP source said.