Night patrolling stepped up in East Central Railway’s Red-hit areas

PATNA: With normalcy returning fast on the Dhanbad-Mughalsarai Grand Chord section after the blast near Paraiya on Friday night, East Central Railway (ECR) has further beefed up security measures. Night track patrolling has been intensified at all vulnerable places in the Red-prone areas.

According to ECR CPRO Amitabh Prabhakar, it was a well-planned security measure by railways to run a pilot engine ahead of Rajdhani Express on each route of the division falling under ECR’s jurisdiction. On the fateful night also, a pilot engine moving ahead of Kolkata-New Delhi Rajdhani Express detected the blast between Guraru and Paraiya stations and pressed the panic button; otherwise, a huge loss of lives and property could have taken place, he said.

He said the Maoists have been giving a tough time to the railways, targeting its property for the past 10 to 15 years, particularly in three important divisions – Danapur, Dhanbad and Mughalsarai – of the ECR in Bihar and Jharkhand, he said. Railways has suffered a loss of about Rs 60 to Rs 70 crore in these three divisions only. That apart, about 200 lives have been lost in various incidents in the ECR, said an ECR official.

According to an RPF security official, Maoists are known to carry out their operations meticulously in the darkness of night, moving in a group of 50 to 100. Carrying sophisticated weapons, they prefer to carry out their sinister designs by blowing up stations, bridges and railway cabins. Powerful detonators and dynamites are used by them to blow up vital railway installations, he said, adding Naxalites also target railway police in trains to snatch arms.

Sources also said Maoists have been targeting Rajdhani Express in particular on the Grand Chord section since 1996. Though four attempts were made in the past to derail the prestigious Rajdhani Express on this section, every time a major accident was averted, as on Friday night after Paraiya blast. The first attempt was made to derail Rajdhani Express on the Grand Chord section on February 20, 1996 by removing fish plates. Luckily, no mishap took place then due to alertness of railway staff. The miscreants again removed fish plates on March 13, 1996 between Paraiya and Guraru stations. However, a goods trains got derailed then as Rajdhani Express was running on the ‘back report’ of the goods train, sources said.

The Maoists put concrete sleepers on the tracks near Rafiganj on March 31, 2001 to derail Rajdhani Express. But a pilot engine dashed against it; otherwise, Rajdhani Express would have met with a serious mishap, sources said.