TIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The intelligence analysis of railway-related security incidents in Kerala in the recent past has spurred the State police to recommend a separate surveillance and operations command to protect the mass transit system from sabotage, hostage-taking and terrorist attacks.
Nearly 5 lakh passengers relied on Kerala’s railway network daily, a majority of them daily commuters. Over 288 trains ferried them across 1,027 km of railway lines that passed through forests and urban centres.
State Police Chief Loknath Behera on Wednesday suggested that the State government urgently form an Intelligence and Operations Wing for the Railway Police to forecast and pre-empt any security threat to the network, the safety of which fell under his jurisdiction.
At his behest, the police had recently conducted a random assessment of the railway security situation in Kerala. They also searched for patterns and trends, including radical political activity, which could potentially jeopardise railway security.
Officials said the survey had flagged up Maoist activity as a potential peril. The police could also not rule out lone-wolf threats from individual saboteurs inspired by online propagandists working for terrorist organisations.
Officials underscored the importance of having an intelligence task force to forage for potential and immediate threats to railways exclusively. Transportation of inflammable freight, such as petroleum and chemicals, would require a higher level of security. So would tracks.
The operations command would have special police forces trained to operate in a dynamic train environment. They would be on board trains and also at vulnerable points on the railroad when the situation demanded.
An official said the overwhelming focus on aviation security had caused security agencies to gloss over the glaring vulnerabilities in railways.
No screening of bags
Many railway stations along the lines have multiple and unregulated accesses point. There was no airport-level screening of passengers or baggage for weapons, explosives, inflammable substances, drugs and other contraband.
Ticketless travel is almost a norm, and at any point, there are several identified travellers in coaches.
Mr. Behera has proposed an artificial intelligence power analysis of surveillance video footage, better platform security, random inspection of baggage, plainclothes officers, and canine units with bomb-sniffing dogs.
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Earlier instances of severe law and order situation in Railway areas in the West Bengal and other regions of the country gives a tip off wherein the security arrangements in the crowd become difficult for the GRP/RPF and hence Kerala GRP is keen to have a separate Intelligence and Operations command for Railways exclusively.