Train coaches torched in Bihar, Mamata orders probe (Roundup)June 1st, 2009 - 8:43 pm ICT by IANS
Patna/Kolkata/New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) An angry mob in Bihar’s Patna district set ablaze coaches of two passenger trains, uprooted rail lines and ransacked the railway station at Khusrupur to protest the decision not to halt any express train there. Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered a probe into the incident and restoration of the service.
Addressing media persons at her Kalighat residence in Kolkata, Banerjee said she and her ministry had been kept in the dark about any decision to not halt express trains at the station that falls under the East Central Railway.
“If this was done, it was done without knowledge of the ministry. If there is something illegal we will see,” Banerjee said, adding she did not know the details yet and would find them out.
“I am not in favour of withdrawing any facility,” she said, adding she had spoken to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to clarify that neither she nor the ministry had issued any instructions on the issue of withdrawing stoppage at the halts.
She said the departmental inquiry would find out if any official has taken the decision without the knowledge of the ministry. “We don’t believe in dividing Bengal and Bihar,” she added.
Police said hundreds of people set fire to three coaches of the Danapur-Jainagar Intercity Express and one coach of the Rajgir-Danapur Express in Khusrupur, about 35 km from Patna. However, no casualty was reported.
The running of nearly a dozen trains on the Danapur-Howrah and Patna-Barauni routes was disrupted following the incident and hundreds of passengers stranded at different railway stations.
The protesters also uprooted rail tracks, disrupting traffic on the Patna-Mokama route.
According to a railways ministry statement in New Delhi: “The decision of withdrawal of temporary stoppages was taken by the zonal railway without the approval of the Ministry of Railways. No directives for withdrawal of these stoppages were given by the Minister of Railways.”
“The railways minister has directed that these temporary stoppages which were withdrawn by East Central Railway, be restored with immediate effect,” the statement said, adding that these 33 temporary stoppages were earlier given by the local zonal railway administration of ECR, Hajipur at different stations in response to public requests and the stoppage at Khusrupur was one of these.
It said a notification was issued by ECR May 26 that these halts, which were of temporary and experimental nature, were being withdrawn by the Zonal Railway because they were not found to be commercially justified.
According to railway sources in Patna, there are nearly 250 legal halts and over 100 unauthorised ones in the five divisions of the ECR. All these halts were created during the tenure of three previous railways ministers from Bihar - Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan.
Against 89 stations in Danapur division, there are 140 legal halts and at least four dozen illegal halts.
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