It was a last-minute input received by the Delhi police, which ‘foiled’ attempts to free Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy — being taken from Delhi to West Bengal on board Rajdhani Express.
But the Railway Protection Force (RPF) headquarters in Delhi had only recently issued a warming (HT is in possession of a copy of the letter) that Maoists might hijack trains to free their jailed leaders.
So why was the risk taken? The RPF authorities also expected improved coordination between Central and state agencies to maintain maximum alert and ensure utmost safety and security of railway property.
But the high drama at Allahabad showed there was no coordination among security forces — despite the warming, a train was chosen to take Ghandy to West Bengal. Though there is no official word on any foiled Maoist plan to free the 63-year-old leader.
A top Government Railway Police (GRP) official said, “See, the operation to take Ghandy to West Bengal did not involve either RPF or GRP. It was a secret operation of the Delhi police.” Admitting security forces in UP had not been kept in loop, he said, “It was Delhi cops’ input to abort the journey and they did that with our help.”
Ghandy, being taken to West Bengal for a court hearing, had to be brought back to Tihar Jail from Allahabad. Following a tip-off that Naxalites ‘planned’ to attack the train and free him, the journey had to be aborted midway. He was taken to the Cantonment police station amid unprecedented security only to be flown back to Delhi.
RPF replies on security
The Railways has, routing a Parliamentary question, asked the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in Lucknow to detail the current state of safety and security in view of the Maoist and terrorist threat. The Board has also sought to know the steps the RPF intends to take to ensure better protection of passengers and Railway property.
The Parliamentary supplementary, routed to Lucknow via the Railway Ministry, has also sought to know what’s being done to up the security for the Rajdhani trains.
Confirming this, RPF’s senior divisional security commissioner (NER) in Lucknow Akhilesh Chandra said, “I today (on Wednesday) sent a reply. We’re working on an integrated security system. Plus, escorts on trains are being upgraded.” Chandra, who is in-charge of RPF’s NER Lucknow Parliamentary cell, said, “Most parts of the reply pertains to policy decisions, which cannot be discussed at this level.”