Dhanbad-Patna railway route – God on lips for safe journey

Science can take a back seat even during day journey on trains in this part of the state.

Ask Sushil Kumar, a medical representative, who took out the Hanuman Chalisa no sooner than the 12368 Vikramshila Express chugged out of Kiul station on Sunday. “I hope Bajrangbali helps us complete our journey in peace.”

He has no faith in the railway security guards. Neither the several hundreds of commuters who take the Kiul-Asansol and the Kiul-Sahebganj sections.

Panic is a steady companion on the 92km stretch from Kiul to Asansol that extends from Kiul (in Lakhisarai) to Tulsitard (on the border of Jamui and Jharkhand’s Deoghar) till the train enters Jamui, Bihar’s hot Red bed. Similarly, passengers on another 170km stretch of the Kiul-Sahebganj section up to Jharkhand’s border, Mirjachowki, which passes through the Red den of Munger and eastern parts of Bhagalpur, too are at the mercy of god.

Over 50 important trains with thousands of passengers travel daily through the main section, with just constable-rank cops from railway’s security on guard.

Jamalpur railway SP Amitav Das denied any manpower shortage. “It is not about manpower shortage, but about the way rebels have started targeting trains and passengers.”

Sanjay Kumar, chief security commissioner-cum-DIG, RPF, Hajipur, also denied a manpower crisis.

On the other hand, base camps of security forces even in the Red den hardly have any impact on Maoist activities.

Top-ranking officers of the CRPF, which has several units of its 131 Battalion in Jamui district, and their police counterparts said they did not have an inkling of the emerging rebel forces. Even when some 100 and odd Maoists laid siege to the Dhanbad-Patna Intercity Express on last Thursday near Kunder Halt, the CRPF personnel remained confined to their camp at Bannubagicha, around 6km from the attack site. “We heard gunshots but without an order from the higher authorities, we preferred to stay inside,” said a CRPF jawan at the camp.

The CRPF officers sounded nonchalant also. Its 133 Battalion commandant, Sumit Singh, said: “No one informed me about the Naxalite attack on the train. We reached the spot within 40 minutes of watching the flash on our TV sets.”

However, one of the passengers on the ill-fated train said they did not see any man in uniform in 80 minutes since the attack had begun.

Inspector-general of police (Bhagalpur range) Jitendar Kumar said: “After the Chhattisgarh incident, we conducted combing operations in the region. It is not wise to blame us for the attack.” Yet, the Maoists blew up a part of the Umbi Bhulsumia Upgraded Middle School in Jamui on Saturday proving either failure in intelligence or counter-insurgency operations.