India's first bulletproof train chugs out of Lumding

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Guwahati, Jul 31 (UNI) India's first bulletproof passenger train chugged out of the Lumding station today crawling up the militant-affected North Cachar hills district and reaching the mountain station of Haflong.

Beginning a new era of anti-insurgency measures, the NF Railway made the entire locomotive of the Lumding-Haflong train bulletproof replacing the looking glass with bulletproof material and covering the engine with bulletproof sheets.

''We stopped train service in this important hill section in May following a series of attacks by the Dimasa militants on our installations as well as Railway drivers,'' said N F Railway Chief Public Relations Officer(CPRO) Samir Goswami.

Passenger train service on the Lumding-Badarpur-Silchar section was suspended from May 15 as driver N N Bora was shot dead and three other employees were injured by the extremists on the section, Mr Goswami said.

Railway connection between the Brahamputra and Barak valley remained cut off since. Links to Tripura also remained snappped due to the insurgents' threat.

However, railway sources today said that at the initial stage of resumption of passenger services, only three trains would run a day with a speed of 15 km per hour. The stations in the Hill section, which were closed following deteriorating the law and order situation, are being reopened in phases.

Bulletproof engines had already been pressed into service in the goods trains being run in the section. At present, the Railways are running ten goods trains, including a security special train, in the section every day.

Meanwhile, official sources said all possible security arrangements had been made in the area to ensure safety of trains and Railway personnel. All goods trains running in the area are being accompanied by armed security.

The sources pointed out that Railway employees were demanding adequate security arrangements in the stations to ensure their safety. Keeping this in mind, five companies of RPSF personnel had been deployed in the area to be posted as static guards in 15 vulnerable stations.

Sources said security personnel, including government railway police, had been deployed in other vulnerable stations. 25 sections of security personnel had been deployed to accompany the gang men deployed for track patrolling, while, the telecom and signal staff are also being accompanied by armed security personnel.

''The idea of introducing bulletproof engines is to instil some confidence in our engine drivers and boost their morale,'' NF Railway General Manager Ashutosh Swami recently told the media.

Twenty-seven railway stations were also closed down following the attack, as agitated railway workers vandalised Lumding railway division, demanding withdrawal of staff from the 'killing zone'.

Though the Dimasa militants were lying low for the past one month, railways employees were still nervous.

UNI MT PL RD 1237

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