The Indian Railways has been at the centre of the terror and sabotage incidents in the recent months.
At least 18 suspected sabotage incidents has been reported in the first 40 days of the year, even as nine people were injured in a blast on a Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train on Tuesday.
In another incident on Tuesday, 13 crude bombs were seized from a bush near a railway track in Kerala’s Kannur district.
According to a ministry official, before the merger of rail budget with the general budget, there was a tendency among railway officials to allow such cases to go unreported. More and more cases were reported after railways minister Suresh Prabhu and minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju jointly addressed all state director generals of police (DGPs) last month and instructed them to actively report and propagate the sabotage cases.
Railway policing is jointly done by the Railway Protection Force (RPF), Government Railway Police and the state police.
There have been complaints of overlapping of functions and a situation of conflict over powers and responsibilities.
Security preparedness has also been compromised because of shortage of staff in the RPF. Against its sanctioned strength of 68,000 personnel, at present there are 12,000 vacancies.
Of the available staff, approximately 7,000 personnel are on election duty, while an additional 800 personnel and 27 sniffer dogs have been deployed for the investiture parade that is scheduled on March 21, while about 8,000 RPF jawans are reportedly posted at the residence of officers.
“The RPF simply does not have the bench strength for train escort duties”, said US Jha, general secretary of the RPF Association.
- 18 train sabotage incidents in the first 40 days of 2017.
- Five sabotage incidents suspected in Maharashtra in last two months.
- Oct 16: IED detected and defused on tracks at Ghorasahan.
- Nov 28: NIA investigating sabotage angle in derailment of Indore-Patna Express at Kanpur, which resulted in 150 passenger deaths.
- Dec 18: 15 coaches of the Ajmer-Sealdah Express derail at Rura, resulting in 50 injuries.
- Jan 21, 2017: 39 killed in derailment of Hirakhand Express at Kuneru.