Railways soft target for Maoists: Minister

July 30th, 2010 - 5:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) The railways have become a soft target for Maoists, Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed told the Rajya Sabha Friday, adding that there had been a dramatic rise in the number of train attacks due to sabotage.
There have been eight accidents in the first six months of this year due to sabotage, against three in 2009 and six in 2008.

“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,” Ahamed said.

“The railways, because of its vast network and expanse, have become a soft target of Maoists,” he added in a written reply to a question.

Pointing out that ‘policing of railways’ was a state subject, Ahamed said prevention of crime, registration of criminal cases, their investigation, besides the maintenance of law and order in railways were the statutory responsibility of the concerned state governments.

The state governments police the railways through the government railway police (GRP) for which the ministry bears 50 percent of the cost.

“Railway Protection Force (RPF) is supplementing the GRP in controlling crime in railways,” Ahamed said.

Dwelling upon various measures taken to enhance safety and security in railways, the minister said it had been decided to provide police escort to nominated trains in vulnerable, Maoist-infested areas.

The union home ministry has also asked the governments of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal to make additional deployment of civil police, GRP and central para military forces to foil attacks on railway infrastructure.

He said the ministry of railways has also approved “an integrated security system costing Rs.353 crore to strengthen surveillance mechanism over sensitive and vulnerable railway stations”.

“In the first phase, it is being implemented at 202 sensitive railway stations,” he added.

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