Goods scam in militant zone: Railway officials in CBI net
In militant country, even terror victims can make money on the sly. That goes for railway officials too.
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has had to bear the brunt of the Black Widow brand of violence, often leading to suspension of trains in Assam's North Cachar Hills district. That, however, didn't stop officials from making the most of the conflict situation.
Black Widow is the alias of the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) outfit whose chairman Jewel Gorlosa was arrested from Bangalore earlier this month. The outfit subsequently declared a ceasefire, but regular train services on the 184 km hill track between Lumding in Nagaon district and Badarpur in Cachar district are yet to be resumed.
Earlier this month, the Central Bureau of Investigation registered cases against 14 NFR officials for tampering with PDS rice bags from northern India to Food Corporation of India depot in southern Assam's Silchar town. The case followed a complaint from the Silchar FCI, which caters to Assam's Barak Valley, Mizoram and Tripura.
Goods destined for that part of India have to be transshipped from broad gauge to meter gauge wagons at Lumding. "We have been extending total cooperation with the investigation since this is earning the railways a bad name, particularly on a stretch where we are often at the mercy of militants," an NFR spokesperson aid here on Monday.
Officials said during the course of investigation, the CBI found short, empty and cut-to-loose rice bags in "seal-intact" FCI goods wagons transshipped at Lumding. The empty wagons were last sealed under the direct supervision of 14 officials in the commercial section, but their record books had no mention about empty bags or shortage of rice in any of the bags. The resultant revenue loss is believed "huge".
According to the railway manual, the Railways is liable for the loss of the difference in the number of goods/bags received at the transshipment point and the number actually received at the destination despite what the receipt at the loading point says.
Meanwhile, the NFR is expected to conduct a trial run of a passenger train on the Lumding-Badarpur section, where services were suspended from April 11. As per plans, the train with only security personnel on board would be run to "test the waters".