Passenger trains to run again through restive southern Assam

June 23rd, 2009 - 3:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala/Silchar (Assam), June 23 (IANS) Passenger train services of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) would resume Wednesday - after nearly two and a half months - on the militancy-hit Lumding-Badarpur rail section which connects southern Assam and three other northeastern states to the rest of the country, officials said Tuesday.
“The NFR would run passenger train services in the Lumding-Silchar (294 km) and Lumding-Agartala (413-km) routes through the militancy-ravaged Lumding-Badarpur (200-km) hill section from Wednesday onwards,” a spokesman of the NFR said.

“All the trains to be run on the section would be escorted by para-military forces,” he said, adding the decision to resume the train services was taken at a meeting, attended by officials of the local administration, police and railways Monday.

The NFR authorities have set up makeshift “bunkers” in each train running on these routes for security personnel to look out for any attacks.

The NFR had resumed goods train services on these routes earlier this month, following pressure from the central and Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur state governments.

According to official estimates more than 85 people, including railway officials, have been killed in attacks by Dima Haolam Daogah or the Black Widow militant outfit on trains and in nearby villages of North Cachar Hill district in southern Assam.

The Lumding-Badarpur section, which is the only link between southern Assam, southern Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura and the rest of the country, is possibly the only rail segment where bullet-proof engines operate.

“There has been no movement of trains on the section since April 10 creating serious problems of transportation of both passengers and essentials goods, specially food grains, to the land-locked southern part of northeast India,” Tripura Transport and Food Minister Manik Dey told reporters in Agartala.

“The goods train service was resumed following a high level meeting held in Guwahati earlier this month. Food Corporation of India (FCI) Chairman Dipak Kumar Panowar, and top officials of railway, army and of several state governments were present in the meeting,” he said,

Dey said the northeastern states have asked the FCI to build buffer stocks in each state before the onset of the monsoon.

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