Calcutta, March 10: The thousands who travel from Howrah had their first brush with terror this afternoon when a crude bomb with a timer was found in a packed compartment minutes before the train’s scheduled departure.
The bomb, in the form of a packet that contained a clock, loose wires, three pencil batteries and a box of grey powder, was later taken out of the local train coach and defused. Experts confirmed that the packet had more than 100 gm of ammonium nitrate, used to prepare crude explosive devices.
“There was a timer attached to it but it didn’t work and so the explosion never occurred. A major disaster was averted due to this,” said Howrah railway police superintendent Pradip Sanyal.
According to officials, had the explosion taken place it could have sparked a fire inside the compartment. On a running train, it would have been disastrous.
The close shave, after the recent Samjhauta Express blasts and those on Mumbai’s local trains last year, brought home the realisation how vulnerable are Calcutta’s local trains, the lifeline of thousands of daily passengers.
“There is hardly any security check in local trains. Only long-distance trains are scanned. Security personnel don’t check packets or boxes, making local train passengers most vulnerable to terrorist attacks,” said L.N. Chakraborty, a daily passenger.
Railway police officials denied the charge.
The packet was found under a seat of the packed Howrah-Gurap local 10 minutes before it was scheduled to leave at 4.35 pm. “The passengers detected the box and raised an alarm after no claimant was found,” said a railway protection force official.
All passengers were evacuated and all the compartments were searched before the train finally left at 5.10 for Gurap, about 45 km away.