It might be dubbed Asia's largest of its kind, but Bathinda railway junction cannot boast of security of even a local rail station. Security is certainly an issue since Hussainiwala border is at Ferozepur, less than 100km from Bathinda.
Six tracks starting from Bathinda go up to Ferozepur, national capital Delhi, Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh in Rajasthan, and Ambala and Rewari in Haryana.
Bathinda is situated close to a few other cities that touch international border with Pakistan, and a slight carelessness could prove dangerous.
In a war, railway stations are a prime targets for cutting off enemy supplies. In the 1971 war with Pakistan, Bathinda junction had come under attack and its railway tracks were damaged to interrupt supply of oil and ammunition to Indian troops.
Atul Garg, an eyewitness to the Pakistan attack on the railway junction in 1971, still vividly remembers the incident. "Destruction of oil tankers was Pakistani aim in that assault," he said.
"They missed the train carrying the tankers by five minutes. In 1971, Bathinda had good connectivity, but now we have the largest ammunition depot, three oil depots, thermal energy plant and other big projects, making our security risk even bigger."
Rajinderpal Singh is another witness to the Pakistani aggression. "They dropped a large numbers of bombs but none exploded because of improper targeting," he said. "We were away at night, and when we returned home in the morning, we found a bomb inside."
"The standard of security has put our railway junction at great risk," said senior citizen PD Goyal. "It should be improved to a level befitting an important station."
Yadvir Sidhu, housewife and frequent traveler, has experience the laxity first hand. "Whenever I travel by train, I never undergo security checks," she said.
"I am yet to see any official frisking people at the railway station. Saboteurs will not give authorities a warning before a strike. I'd like to see the railway police force alert and screening visitors at the entrance."
Installed only a few months ago, the station's surveillance cameras have gone dead. Safety Company commander Ajay Rampal Singh saw no reason for alarm. "Our guards are deployed 24 hours at the station," he said. "Their job is to check visitors."