The railways have been a target of terror groups several times in the past. A recent investigation conducted by the Bihar police suggests that there was a plan to blow up a train in East Champaran.
Investigations revealed that two persons were paid off by an Inter-Services Intelligence contact from Nepal to plant a bomb on the railway track at East Champaran on October 1. The bomb was defused after alert villagers spotted it and called the cops in.
This investigation is very crucial as it could give more clues to investigators probing into mystery train accidents. There have been over 11 train accidents in 2016. While the cause of the accident has been ascertained in most cases, the one at Kanpur in November 2016 in which 143 lost their lives continues to be a mystery.
We do not want to add a conspiracy theory to the accident, but there is no harm in probing a terror link in the wake of the revelations made by the Delhi police, an official associated with the Railways informed.
Railways vulnerable to terror:
In this context, one must go back to the 2006 Mumbai train bombings. 180 people died in that deadly blast which ripped through the trains in Mumbai in a span of 11 minutes.
While this was the biggest terror attack on the Indian railways, there have been several other incidents on a smaller scale.
In 2016, there was a mystery bomber who sought to send out a message to the security establishment. The Panipat-Ambala passenger train was attacked twice in 2016.
While the first incident occurred in January, the second one was in May. In both incidents a low intensity bomb was planted in one of the bogeys. The blast was a minor one, but it went on to reveal how poor the security was in the Indian railways.
Terror groups would look to target the railways for a variety of reasons. First, the railway stations are crowded and this makes the impact extremely high. Second, the security is very low and this makes the railways a potential target.
In the past as well, the naxalites have meddled with the railway tracks to cause train accident. It is practically impossible to man the entire railway line which spreads of several lakhs of kilometres.
The Chennai train blast of 2014 is also a classic example of how lax security is. The members of the Students' Islamic Movement of India had boarded the train in Bengaluru with explosives and timed it to go off at the Chennai railway station.
One person died in that incident. The SIMI members assembled the bomb in the wash room of the train. This means that they passed through every possible security check, if any, undetected.
Not a favourable job:
Many in the police force do not prefer being posted in the Railway Protection Force. They feel that it is a punishment posting or the challenge in the job is not good enough. There have also been complaints that members of this force are not professional investigators and this has also caused a lot of problems.
The biggest problem is the lack of personnel in the force which have led to complaints of over load of work. In addition to incidents in railway stations, the Railway Protection Force also has the task of manning and protecting the assets of the railways.