Concerned over the daring attack on the Bhubaneswar-Delhi Rajdhani Express by Maoist-backed agitators, the railways has decided to come up with its own commando force to counter threats from Naxals and militants.
And as per plans, these railway commandos would be deployed on important trains including Rajdhani Express that passes through Naxal hit areas. The commandos would also be deployed at various railway installations situated in Naxal-hit areas, the Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast regions.
“The Railways, of late, have become soft target of the Naxals and we are concerned about what happened in Bengal yesterday. We are strengthening our security system and are coming up with commando force of our own. We are in close touch with the state administration and everything whatever would be done in consultation with the state DGP,” the Director General of Railway Protection Force (RPF) Ranjit Sinha told Hindustan Times over telephone from Delhi.
When asked whether these railway commandos would be posted in important trains like Rajdhani Express, Sinha said, “Yes, we will definitely deploy the commandos to guard important trains like Rajdhani passing through Naxal-hit areas. We already have armed security personnel on important trains and once our commandos are ready, they would be certainly be deployed on Rajdhani.”
According to railway sources, the commando personnel would be trained at the Central Reserve Police Force Training Centre at Silchar. Services of the Army and the Commando force of Andhra Pradesh would also be utilised for training the new commando force.
Moreover, already requests have been made to the Centre to provide AK-47 rifles and bulletproof jackets to all Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) personnel. Security at 140 railway stations are also being beefed up under an integrated scheme and government had allocated a special fund of Rs 350 crore this year for the purpose.
Interestingly, it was during Mamata Banerjee’s earlier stint at the Railway ministry in 2000 when she had ordered deployment of railway commando on Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express via Patna after associates of an influential MP from Bihar harassed college students returning to Kolkata in an AC-II tier compartment of the train.
Mamata at that time had ordered the raising of a special force for the Rajdhani Express and accordingly carbine-toting Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) personnel in black stood guard in the compartments of Rajdhani Express throughout the journey.
“The previous RPF’s commando wing was raised in 1999 and by next year a group of the railway commandos started providing security on the Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express. But after Mamata resigned, the railway ministry withdrew the service as it lacked proper sanctions and legal issues were attached to it. However, those commandos were mainly deployed to look after the safety of the passenger and prevent dacoity, etc., and not to tackle Maoist threats,” said a senior RPF official in Howrah.
Sinha also pointed out that though they are strengthening their security infrastructure and raising the commandos, who would be deployed in important trains passing through the Naxal hit areas, but the respective state governments would have to look into situations like yesterday where 500 men attacked the Rajdhani Express. “We are working in close contact with state administration to prevent such incidents and we are making all arrangements to ensure passenger safety,” said Sinha.