Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Oct. 28: Passengers on the Puri-Hatia Tapaswani Express had a narrow escape today when a 15kg can bomb planted on the tracks by Maoists at Bano was detected barely an hour before the train was supposed to pass by, even as the railways intensified patrolling on the Chakradharpur division.
The bomb was detected at 9.15am by a permanent way inspector of the railways while the express train was to pass by at 10.15am. The area is about 84km from Hatia railway station and about 10km from Bano halt on the Hatia-Rourkela route. Authorities stopped the train as soon as it reached Bano halt 10.05am.
Divisional railway manager V.K.Agrawal, senior divisional traffic manager Prabhat Ranjan and divisional security commandant of Railway Protection Force (RPF) Santosh Kumar Dubey left for the spot with a bomb disposal squad of the state police and RPF jawans from Hatia at 11.15am and reached Bano at 12.50pm. It took 30 minutes to diffuse the bomb, after which the Puri-Hatia Tapaswani Express left Bano at 2pm. The train reached Hatia station at 4.20pm. The train had started from Puri at 5.45 this morning with about 1,500 passengers and was scheduled to reach Hatia at 11.40am.
T. Godwin, the driver of the train, said he realised that something was seriously wrong when the train was kept waiting for nearly two hours at Bano, which is otherwise a two minute halt.
With rebel activity on the rise and after yesterday’s incident at Banstala station in Bengal, the railway police under Chakradharpur division of South Eastern Railways was put on high alert.
Highly placed sources said both the RPF and Government Railway Police have been directed to intensify security at railway stations and for trains moving in the Chakradharpur division which falls in the “Red Corridor”.
“Railways have always been a soft target of Maoists. The growing attacks on railways, particularly in Chakradharpur division, is a cause of concern. After the New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express was held hostage yesterday near Jhargram, we have sounded a high alert in Chakradharpur,” said a senior official.
Superintendent of railway police Amol V. Honkar said additional force have been requisitioned for deployment in long distance trains. “After yesterday’s incident, we have decided to provide escorts on all long distance trains passing through Tatanagar and other railway railway stations in the division,” he said.