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No arrests yet in Bihar train burning case

By Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna
August 20, 2009 14:30 IST
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Forty-eight hours after four air-conditioned bogies of the Delhi-Patna Shramjeevi Express train was set on fire by an angry mob of students, there have been no arrests.

"But the police are doing everything to identify the culprits involved in setting the train on fire and we will take stern action against them," Additional Director General (police headquarters) Neelmani said in Patna on Thursday.

Two separate FIRs have been lodged with Danapur GRP -- one by the RPF and the other by the deputy station superintendent of Bihta station -- against unidentified persons, railway police sources said.

Police are studying visuals provided by television news channels to identify the culprits.

Police sources in Bihta said that railway police along with district police have began raids but have yet to make any arrests. There is a panic in several nearby villages after the police raids, said local businessman Maheshwar Prasad Singh.

Amit Kumar (name changed), a student, who was part of the mob that set the train on fire near Bihta, told that when an RPF escort party forced a group of students to vacate the AC bogie they got agitated and collected other students travelling in the train.

"Soon after the train stopped at Bihta, some students started pelting stones at the RPF and the train. Soon a rumour spread that a student had died after being beaten by the RPF party. This angered the crowd and they set fire to the AC bogies," Lokesh Singh (name changed), another student who witnessed the incident said.

The damage to the four bogies is estimated to be Rs 3.5 crore, a railway official said.

A senior railway official at Danapur railway division of East Central Railway told over the telephone that it has become a regular feature to damage/burn trains and disrupt traffic over local issues.

The Danapur-Buxar rail section and Danapur-Mokama rail section witnessed five train burning incidents between June 1 to August 18. On the day the Shramjeevi train was burnt, a mob of students set fire to the Kiul Gaya passenger train at Lakhisarai railway station.

In first incident on June 1, students had torched four bogies of two trains at Khusrupur, 32 kilometres east of Patna after the railways withdrew a stop for the Shramjeevi Express there. On July 14 local people set ablaze an AC coach of the Kosi Express at Athamgola railway station.

It is common in long-distance express trains passing through Bihar for students and locals to enter reserved and AC bogies and travel without valid tickets.

Bihar DGP Anand Shankar has directed ADG (railways) A S Nimbram to set up separate control rooms for the railway police. Shankar also ordered to increases patrolling in trains.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also made it clear that strict action would be taken against those damaging trains.

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Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna