RPF shuns safety suits to neutralise explosives

While they are summoned the maximum number of times to defuse bombs, be it on platforms or railway compartments, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) are reluctant to use bomb suits.

The issue has once again come to the surface after the death of a state bomb squad personnel at Alipurduar on Thursday.

In 2006, an officer of the CID’s bomb disposal squad died when he tried to defuse explosives without taking precautionary measures at Jhitka near Lalgarh.

Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel, barring those in Howrah, do not use bomb suits, which is mandatory for defusing explosives.

“Bomb suit is a must for defusing explosives. Asansol, Burdwan, Sealdah and Malda division bomb disposal squad personnel do not use protective gear. Bomb suits are lying unused,” said a senior officer of RPF, working in Howrah.

“We use it where it is available and over phone I can’t share this sensitive information,” said D. Mohan, the inspector general of RPF.

From 2010 to 2013 August, railway security personnel have defused 13 explosives.

The last case was at Ajimgunj in Murshidabad where 25 detonators and five gelatine sticks were defused.

“The explosives which we encounter are timer device, detonator, ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO), crude and socket bombs. In order to defuse such explosives de-armour disruptor and real time viewing system (RTVS) equipment are important. But till date we have not been given these. So we have to defuse explosives taking a risk,” said the RPF officer.

The function of RTVS is to scan the circuits used in the explosive.

Even if the explosive is kept inside a bag, with the help of this equipment it can be checked from outside. After checks with the help of de-armour disruptor machine, a controlled blast can be carried out from 200 metres away with the help of a remote control system.

Not only bomb suits, costly equipment like telescopic manipulators, bomb baskets and bomb blankets are lying unused except those kept in Howrah.

“We lack experienced personnel who can use the equipment and this is why the gear are lying unused,” said the officer.