Siliguri: RPF on the NFR on high alert following Myanmar Ops

RPF inspects Siliguri Station
RPF officers in Siliguri Junction where empty barrels were kept on a platform

Siliguri (SGUJ): Following the successful Myanmar operation carried out by the Indian Army, the Railway Police Force (RPF) in West Bengal’s Siliguri District has tightened security and safety measures for railway passengers.

“Every time we have to be alert and we are trying to be alert. This is a continuous process and we do not compromise on security,” Mohd. Saquib, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF, Katihar said.

Sniffer dogs were used to track down unwanted objects in the surroundings of the New Jalpaiguri Railway station.

The army on Tuesday engaged two separate groups of militants along the Indo-Myanmar border, inflicting significant casualties on them.

A statement from the Ministry of Defence said that the operations were necessary in light of intelligence reports, which warned of militants planning attacks on Indian soil. The statement further appreciated the cooperation shared between the armies of India and Myanmar, assuring that any security threat to the nation will be met with a ‘firm response’.

The action comes days after a militant ambush in Manipur, which led to the death of 18 army personnel and injured 11 others.

The ambush, which was one of the most deadly attacks in the region in recent years, occurred at around 8.30 am on June 4, when the army ‘s convoy was travelling between Paralong and Charong villages.

The central government later handed over the probe into the attacks to the National Investigation Agency.

“Encroachment is indeed a serious problem at railway stations. But the RPF will hold eviction drive only after discussing the matter with state government o officials as well as police.” said Saquib.

Some RPF officers accompanying Saquib said driving away encroachers and unauthorised vendors from railway land was always an ordeal for the force in Bengal. “Even in Bihar, we hardly face any political interference or restriction while evicting encroachers. But here in Bengal, the situation is different and we have to act accordingly,” said an RPF officer who didn’t want to be named.

“We have lost one of our jawans during an eviction drive at Malda Town station. Instead of asking police to go all out against the culprits, the Bengal chief minister tacitly passed on the buck to us. Hence, we are extra cautious now before conducting any eviction drive so that we are not blamed in case of any untoward incident,” he added. A day after RPF jawan Samarendra Samanta was killed, chief minister Mamata Banerjee told the Assembly that “the RPF did not inform us before evicting the hawkers,” implying that a central agency should inform the state in advance before undertaking any action that could create law-and-order problems.

“During a recent inspection, it came to my notice that even toy train tracks from Sukna to Darjeeling, which come under the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, are encroached. The encroachment is so rampant that even the movement of toy train is affected between Kurseong and Darjeeling. Its high time that the issue is solved seriously,” said the safety commissioner.

“In most cases, the encroachers are from outside and there are chances that miscreants will take shelters there,” he added.

Saquib said unauthorised vendors were occupying platforms as well. “Although railway platforms are entirely under the surveillance of the RPF and we are free to evict hawkers, we want to discuss with the state government and police before carrying out such missions,” Saquib said.

“Such eviction drives often impact law and order in localities around railway stations which are under the jurisdiction of state police. Hence, to hold eviction drive peacefully, we feel it is necessary to talk to state police and local administration,” he explained.

Saquib, however, refused to accept that the change in the RPF’s policy and plan to hold discussions with state government officials prior to eviction was a follow up move after the recent violence in Malda.

While inspecting Siliguri Junction station around 11am today, Saquib also expressed strong discontent over illegal parking and other lapses in security arrangements.

“Motorcycles parked in front of the main entrance are hindering the movement of passengers and officials. Unclaimed articles are also found in different locations and most importantly, most of the authorised vendors did not even wear uniforms. The door of the office of the commercial ticket inspector, where large amount of cash is kept, was open. Such matters are usually ignored but miscreants and extremists exploit such negligence,” he observed.

He directed the RPF officials and the station manager to look into these matters.