Train services, suspended in May, have resumed along the Lumding Badarpur track in Assam. But with a difference. In a first for the country, all eight engines that have been inducted are bullet proof.
Trains stopped running in this 185 km long section after a militant outfit called Black Widow – which seeks separate statehood for the Dimasa tribe in Assam – gunned down engine driver N. N. Bora on May 15, as he was hauling a special patrol train between Mupa and Kalachand stations. It was only the last of several attacks on railway employees and workers of the North East Frontier Railway in this region.
“Services were resumed on Thursday with the flagging off of two trains with security provided by the army, police and the railway protection force,” NF Railway spokesperson Sameer Goswami told HT.
Nupur Malakar, who drove the train that set off from Badarpur, remembers Bora well. “The presence of security is all very well. But knowing that the engine is bullet proof bolsters one’s confidence,” he said.
The engines were modified with bullet-proof glass replacing ordinary glass in the windows and bullet-resistant metal being pasted on to the sides.
The Lumding Badarpur section which passes through the hill districts of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills in Assam, is vital for the transportation of essential goods to Assam’s Barak valley, as well as Tripura and Mizoram.