M A I N   N E W S

Howrah Express has miraculous escape
Tribune Reporters

Goraya (Jalandhar), January 6
Rail traffic on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana section was disrupted for hours and passengers of the Howrah-bound Howrah Express had a miraculous escape as it allegedly passed on a fractured rail track, which was possibly blown up with some explosive device by some anti-social elements, about 1 km from Goraya railway station, last night.

The incident, which took place at around 9.30 p.m, left a wide gap of 82 cm in the railway track, which was rendered ineffective for playing of rail traffic. This also forced the Railway authorities to stop the Pooja Express and the Amritsar-Moorie Express trains at the station here and the Jammu mail was stopped at Chaheru railway station near Jalandhar.

Meanwhile, forensic experts, who were called from Chandigarh by the Railway and the police authorities, seized pieces of a blanket, a red-coloured container and broken pieces of the railway track. These articles will be examined to determine whether the damage was caused by a blast or a fracture in the track. A dog squad was also summoned, but it failed to yield any result.

The Railway authorities have constituted a four-member inquiry commission to probe the incident in depth. Besides looking for a possibility of a technical lapse, the commission will also probe the possibility of terrorists’ involvement into the incident.

Railway officials said a big mishap was averted as the Howrah Express had passed on the track minutes after the incident.

Mr Purshotam Lal, Goraya Station Master, said after carrying out an inspection and the requisite repairs, traffic on one of the two tracks was restored after a gap of about two hours, while the twin tracks were made functional by 2 a.m.

Mr Hukam Chand Punia, Divisional Railway Manager, said it could not be stated clearly at present whether there was some blast or it was “track dislocation. “He said the four-member inquiry panel would comprise the Assistant Traffic Manager (Ludhiana), the Assistant Engineer, the Assistant Electrical Engineer and the Assistant Security Commissioner of the Railway Protection Force.

While talking to The Tribune, Mr Dinkar Gupta, DIG, said it was apparently a blast. “Though there was no crater, a 30 cm-long piece of the track was found in the fields on the other side of the affected part of the track. Some cast-iron pieces, which were of a different material than that of the track, were also found,” said Mr Gupta, who inspected the site along with the SSP, Mr G.S. Bhullar.

LUDHIANA: The local Government Railway Police station has lodged an FIR under the Explosives Act as “ostensibly” it seems to be a bomb blast.

The FIR lodged at 1.30 am here on Tuesday, as the area of the Railway police station extends beyond Goraya, states that nearly 82 cm of track was missing allegedly because of some explosion. Security of the tracks is the responsibility of the commando police which has been specially associated with the Railways for the protection of the important Jammu-Amritsar-Delhi railway tracks. However, no action has been so far taken against any person for negligence.

Mr S.C. Jain, ADGP, Railways, told The Tribune that such an action could only be taken if it was proved that the incident was an act of sabotage and not an accident. He said, ‘‘Ostensibly it seemed that the track was damaged because of some explosion but previous experience showed that some tracks could develop cracks during the winter and some of their parts were broken due to high-speed trains.’’

Railway sources said the local Railway police would be the main investigating authority behind the incident as it took place in its jurisdiction. Railway police sources said some persons living in Mauli village, which is not far off from the spot, had given a statement to the police that they had heard an explosion at about 8.30 pm. Railway sources said the traffic could be restored at 2.05 am only.

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