Maoist attacks on rail targets pose a serious life threat to innocent passengers

Maoist attacks on railways and road have increased this year, with the latest being the blowing up of railway tracks in Bihar late on Friday night.

The Maoists had struck rail infrastructure nine times this year till June 15, as against seven times during the same period last year. Friday night’s attack in Bihar, to enforce a Naxal bandh, is the latest one, the previous being on June 13, when the extremists struck a passenger train in Bihar’s Jamui district, killing a railway police personnel and two passengers.

The Naxals blew up the rail track around 11 pm on Friday between Taraiya and Guraru railway stations, barely 20 minutes after the pilot engine of the Howrah-Delhi Rajdhani Express had crossed the area. No one was injured in the incident. Following the 2003 accident of the Howrah-Delhi Rajdhani in Naxal-infested Aurangabad district of Bihar, which had left over 100 people dead, Railways runs pilot engines ahead of trains as a precaution.

An analysis of the Union Home Ministry statistics shows that 2013 witnessed a surge in attacks on roads being constructed under the Prime Minister’s Grameen Sadak Yojna , power plants, panchayat buildings and facilities of the National Mineral Development Corporation.

Overall, however, there has been a decrease in the number of attacks on economic targets owing to a slump in targeting forest roads and culverts, which fell to 70 incidents till mid-June this year as against 111 in the corresponding period in 2012.

A total of 106 incidents of targeting economic infrastructure were reported this year till June, as aga]inst 146 in the same period last year.

Such attacks were on the decline since 2010, when 365 cases had been reported. The next year saw a total of 293 such cases, while the number slipped to 214 last year. In 2008, the figure was 182, rising to 362 next year.

Of the nine incidents of attack on railways this year, five were reported in Chhattisgarh, three from Bihar and one from Jharkhand. Bihar’s tally rises to four if one adds the latest incident, while last year, only one such incident was reported from the state.

The roads constructed under PMGSY were attacked eight times in different states this year, with Bihar accounting for half the incidents. Last year, till June 15, only three such incidents had been reported.