Mamata for greater security in Bihar trains | india | Hindustan Times
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Mamata for greater security in Bihar trains

In the wake of repeated cases of arson and violence in trains passing through Bihar in recent months, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to the home ministry for deployment of additional armed personnel in such trains. A copy of the letter has also been sent to the Bihar government.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2009 21:02 IST
Vijay Swaroop

In the wake of repeated cases of arson and violence in trains passing through Bihar in recent months, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to the home ministry for deployment of additional armed personnel in such trains. A copy of the letter has also been sent to the Bihar government.

The request for additional security follows the vandalism at Bihta and Lakhisarai last week and resultant loss of railway property. The students had torched four AC bogies of Shramjeevi Express following which, the railway minister had ordered a probe. The union home ministry had also sought a detailed report form the Central Intelligence Bureau.

The railways has been bearing the burnt of attacks in Bihar, be it by Maoists or by students. In June, students had torched four bogies of two trains at Khusropur, 32 kms east of the state capital, after the Railways withdrew stoppage of Shramjeevi Express.

The railway ministry has also requested the state government to take proper steps to save railway property and, more importantly, the lives of passengers. “We are providing nearly 400 escort parties in all the trains and have strengthened it as per the requirement,” said Neelmani. He, however, said even if the number of police personnel was increased, it was not possible for the escort parties to contain incidents like the one that took place in Bihta.

The railway minister’s concern is not without reason. More than 800 trains criss-cross Bihar on its 3,500 kms of track network each day. At present, a small number of 3,149 GRP personnel man these trains. The railways norms committee in 1985 had recommended recruitment of at least 8,000 constables. But more than two decades later, the strength is still less than half of what was prescribed. The GRP in Bihar was last strengthened in 1996.

Acute shortage of forces means that half of these trains go unescorted while the others have only four or five armed police personnel on board.

According to National Crime Records Bureau statistics, in the last eight years Bihar recorded 2,076 IPC crimes on trains. They accounted for almost 11 per cent of crimes reported by the railway police in 2007 across the country. In 2008, although the number of dacoity and looting incidents came down, the murder toll went up to 58 from 39.