Passenger train services on the militancy-ravaged North Cachar Hills section in Assam will resume on Thursday over two months after they were suspended.
Terror of the Black Widow kind had hit train services in the 184 km Lumding-Silchar section as well as a gauge conversion project more than a year back. This often led to erratic train services.
Black Widow is another name for the militant Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) group seeking a homeland for the Dimasa tribal people dominating NC Hills district. Its chairman Jewel Gorlosa was arrested in Bengaluru earlier this month helping restore a semblance of normality in the hill district despite ethnic clashes in remote corners.
Though the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) authorities carried on with goods train services - the route is vital for transshipping essentials to southern Assam's Barak Valley, Mizoram, Tripura and parts of Manipur - they suspended passenger trains indefinitely from April 11 after violence escalated. However, track tampering by the militants put paid to the goods train services many a time.
"We shall initially run a pair of Passenger Special trains between Lumding (in Nagaon district on the northern end of the section) and Silchar (in Cachar district on the other end) from Thursday. The Up Passenger will leave Silchar at 5 am and the Down Passenger will leave Lumding at 6.30 am," said an NFR spokesman. Passenger trains normally take 12 hours to traverse this hill section mainly due to steep inclines and tricky terrain.
Interestingly, the NFR had tried a few firsts in Indian railway history to ensure services in this troublesome section. It had introduced bulletproof diesel locomotives early last year after militants ambushed and killed or grieviously injured a few drivers. Earlier this year, the authorities turned bogeys into bunkers for security personnel to enable movement of trains.