Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rlys become a `soft target' for Naxals
Mahendra Kumar Singh, TNN, Jul 30, 2010, 10.40pm IST


NEW DELHI: The railways is clearly under siege from Naxals. The drastic increase in train accidents due to sabotage by Maoists has led to as many as 150 civilian casualties till June. While another 165 people have been injured. It has also cost the PSU around Rs 25 crore due to loss of property.

Record reveal that there have been eight accidents in the first six months of this year alone due to sabotage as compared to six in 2009 and 2008 and four in 2007.

Though six accidents due to sabotage were reported last year, the loss was much less as compared to this year. In 2009, only 2 persons were killed, 24 injured and around Rs 10.4 crore was lost due to damage to rail property. Similarly in 2008, there was no casualty, and the loss was only pegged at Rs 2.4 crore.

This year, the sabotage-induced accidents -- that occurred mostly in Maoist strongholds in East-Central, South-Eastern and East Cost Zonal Railway -- forced the railways to pay an ex-gratia compensation to the tune of around Rs 32 crore to the victims.

While initial findings suggest the "sabotage" theory -- as railways suspect drugging of both the drivers of the Uttar Banga Express -- the official version ignores this angle in the July 19 accident when the Uttar Banga Express rammed into the Vananchal Express, killing 62 people.

"Railways has become a soft target for Naxals due to its vast network and expanse," minister of state for railways E Ahamed informed the Rajya Sabha.

"The security scenario in the country has changed drastically in the recent past. There has been a rise in Maoist attacks on critical infrastructure of railways," the minister said in a written reply.

Parliament was informed that the derailment of the Mumbai-bound Gyaneshwari Expre

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