Students torch train in Bihar

Incident follows scuffle with Railway Protection Force at Bihta

Flames & smoke billows out of Delhi-Patna Shramjivi Express at Bihata near patna, Tuesday. The train was set on fire by irate students following their clash with railway police personnel over a chain pulling incident. PTI The students turned furious after Railway Protection Force (RPF) jawans roughed them up during a ticket-checking drive.

The situation took an ugly turn when some students, travelling on valid monthly passes, protested as RPF jawans allegedly asked for bribes to allow them to travel on sleeper coaches. The students’ verbal duel with the men in uniform soon turned into a full-fledged battle with the police mercilessly beating up the students who had earlier indulged in stone-throwing.

The students, who numbered no more than 50, beat a hasty retreat, but they soon re-grouped and re-emerged on the scene, chasing the gun-toting policemen and Railway Protection Force jawans.

The stationary Shramjeevi Express bore the brunt of the students’ ire. The students first asked passengers to alight from the train before setting all the four air-conditioned coaches on fire. Shouting invectives, the students, whose numbers swelled to several hundred, went on the rampage, assaulting the train guard.

Besides the guard, four policemen and some Patna-bound passengers were injured in the clash. The flames of the burning train also damaged a few coaches of the Bangalore-Patna Sanghmitra Express, which was stationed on the adjoining track.  The incident badly affected the movement of trains on the Patna-Mughalsarai section for several hours. Late on Tuesday afternoon, the four gutted coaches were detached and the train eventually left for Patna.

Soft target

Over the past few years, Bihar has witnessed several acts of lawlessness in which unruly students have turned their so-called protests into acts of vandalism and destruction of public property. In most cases, the civil and police administration had remained mute by-standers instead of trying to enforce law and order.

But of late, trains in Bihar have become a soft target for any form of protest. On June 1, angry local passengers set afire two trains — the Jaynagar-Danapur Exp and Danapur-Rajgir Passenger — at Khusrupur Halt. The irate mob was protesting the Railways’ decision to withdraw stoppages of the superfast Shramjeevi Exp and others at Khusrupur.

In October last year, when supporters of the Raj Thackeray-Maharashtra Navanirman Sena Raj assaulted examinees from Bihar in Mumbai, there was a statewide backlash. A section of students had set three coaches of the Durg-Danapur South Bihar Exp on fire at Khusrupur station. The Kosi Exp and Vikramshila Exp at Barh station were also set on fire on October 22, 2008.

In other incident, 12 armed miscreants looted the 2150 UP Patna-Pune Exp, at Ara junction, some 100 km from Patna, late on Monday night.


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