Kanpur Train Tragedy is a Terror Plot: clarifies Bihar Police

PATNA: ISI plotted big attacks on vulnerable Indian Railways. Bihar police zero in on Pakistan’s ISI hand behind Kanpur train tragedy to target railways and cause huge damage and loss of lives. The investigation revealed that the suspects have the support from ISI with financial backing from a Dubai-based businessman.

The railways have been a target of terror groups several times in the past. A recent investigation conducted by the Bihar Police and Interpol now got a thorough clue that the accident was a sabotage that was a plan to blow up a train in East Champaran or cause derailment of a speeding train by damaging the tracks.

Bihar police on Tuesday claimed to have unearthed a suspected ISI link to target the railways with arrest of three persons in East Champaran district of the state. The report emerged after the arrest of three persons suspected of planting an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on a railway track near Ghorasahan railway station+ in October last year.

Police claimed the trio had confessed to having worked for a Nepalese contact suspected to be connected to Pakistan’s ISI to target the railways. The bomb was defused after alert villagers spotted it and called the cops in.

This investigation is very crucial as it could give more clues to investigators probing into mystery train accidents. There have been over 11 train accidents in 2016. While the cause of the accident has been ascertained in most cases, the one at Kanpur in November 2016 in which 150 lost their lives continues to be a mystery. We do not want to add a conspiracy theory to the accident, but since a terror link is identified in the wake of the revelations made by the Delhi police, the investigation had a clue now; an official associated with the Railways informed.

During interrogation, police claimed that “the accused were given Rs 3 lakh by a Nepali citizen allegedly connected with the ISI for planting a bomb to blow the railway track at Ghorasahan in East Champaran district in October 1 last year to cause an accident. A probe is currently underway to find their links with the Kanpur train accident,” SP Jitendra Rana told.

The police also claimed that they will interrogate the trio to ascertain if the gang had any role in train accidents in Kanpur that claimed the lives of at least 140 people and injured many others, on November 20, 2016.

While the three accused were arrested from East Champaran district, three others have been nabbed at Tailaya in Nepal for targeting railways on behalf of suspected terror elements in this country, Rana added. Security agencies have been informed about the confession made by the three men, who are “professional criminals” allegedly involved in more than a dozen criminal cases.

They’re being further interrogated for more details to determine if the they had any role in train accidents in Kanpur and elsewhere. At least 150 people were killed and over 100 injured when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed near Pukhrayan in Kanpur Dehat district in November 2016.

Initial reports overlooked terror angle and investigated rail fracture due to expansion of the track in summer and contraction in winter as the likely cause of the mishap which now proved to be wrong.

Rana said the anti-terrorism squad and other security agencies have been informed about the confession made by the three men who are being interrogated for more details to ascertain if the gang had any role in train accidents in Kanpur and elsewhere. 150 people were killed in the derailment of Indore-Patna Express at Kanpur Dehat in November last year.

East Champaran is a district bordering Nepal and Indian Mujahideen chief Yasin Bhatkal was arrested from Raxaul in the district in August 2013.

Railways vulnerable to terror:

In this context, one must go back to the 2006 Mumbai train bombings. 180 people died in that deadly blast which ripped through the trains in Mumbai in a span of 11 minutes. While this was the biggest terror attack on the Indian railways, there have been several other incidents on a smaller scale. In 2016, there was a mystery bomber who sought to send out a message to the security establishment. The Panipat-Ambala passenger train was attacked twice in 2016. While the first incident occurred in January, the second one was in May. In both incidents a low intensity bomb was planted in one of the bogeys. The blast was a minor one, but it went on to reveal how poor the security was in the Indian railways.

Terror groups would look to target the railways for a variety of reasons. First, the railway stations are crowded and this makes the impact extremely high. Second, the security is very low and this makes the railways a potential target. In the past as well, the naxalites have meddled with the railway tracks to cause train accident. It is practically impossible to man the entire railway line which spreads of several lakhs of kilometres. The Chennai train blast of 2014 is also a classic example of how lax security is. The members of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India had boarded the train in Bengaluru with explosives and timed it to go off at the Chennai railway station.

One person died in that incident. The SIMI members assembled the bomb in the wash room of the train. This means that they passed through every possible security check, if any, undetected.

Many in the police force do not prefer being posted in the Railway Protection Force. They feel that it is a punishment posting or the challenge in the job is not good enough. There have also been complaints that members of this force are not professional investigators and this has also caused a lot of problems. The biggest problem is the lack of personnel in the force which have led to complaints of over load of work. In addition to incidents in railway stations, the Railway Protection Force also has the task of manning and protecting the assets of the railways.