A US-based security organisation has termed the May 28 Howrah-Mumbai express train sabotage in West Bengal as India's "worst terrorist attack" on a train since 2006 and its "bloodiest deliberate derailment" in decades with serious implications for rail security worldwide.
According to a recent statement by the Los Angeles-based prestigious Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI), the attack on the train near Jhargram in West Bengal, which left at least 148 passengers dead, could point to "a growing trend in India" with serious security implications on surface transport security around the world.
"Terrorists make note of methods, taking lessons from all attempts, whether successful or not, which could be applied to other systems," Brian Michael Jenkins, MTI's director, National Transportation Security Centre of Excellence, suggested.
India also leads in the number of terrorist bomb attacks against trains and buses with 387 incidents since 1970, or 17 percent of the total worldwide.
The MTI plans to study the Howrah-Kurla Gyaneshwari Express derailment and other recent attacks in India to see what lessons can be learnt and how these could be applied to the transportation security systems in other countries.
Prior to the May 28 sabotage, the MTI had listed the July 11, 2006 serial bombings in Mumbai suburban trains, which killed 207 commuters, and a sabotage that led to the 1989 derailment of the Karnataka Express near Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh in which 67 passengers were killed.
The MTI said that prior to the Maoist-triggered train disaster last month, a mine detonated under a bus by Maoist guerrillas had left 44 passengers dead in Chhattisgarh.
"The threat seems to be growing with at least 30 deliberate derailments in India since January 2000. This is almost four times the number of derailments in the 1990s and 15 times the number of incidents in the 1980s," said Jenkins.
According to the MTI, even the toll in such attacks has gone up drastically in the current decade. It said that between 2000 and 2010, the death toll was 13 times higher than that in the 1990s, although owing to two bloody incidents, it is only slightly greater than the 1980s.
An analysis of several deliberate derailments shows India's railway system suffering from the most terrorist derailments with 42 incidents or 23 percent of the total 181 such incidents which were analysed by Jenkins, Bruce R. Butterworth and Jean-Francois Clair.
The Maharashtra government on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding with the MTI to suggest ways and means to provide world-class security systems for Mumbai's upcoming metro-rail and mono-rail networks.
Established by the Congress in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), the MTI conducts research, education, and information and technology transfer focusing on multi-modal surface transportation policy and management issues.