Police and forensic experts in Haryana were on Wednesday questioning people and searching villages to identify those who pelted stones at the Amritsar-New Delhi Shatabdi Express in which Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was travelling.
The incident took place on Tuesday night near Gharaunda town, about 20 km from Panipat and 100 km from the national capital.
“We are investigating the matter based on various clues. People in nearby villages are being questioned about who was behind this incident,” said Rohtak range Inspector General of Police V. Kamaraj.
Though no one was injured, three coaches, C-2, C-4 and C-7, were damaged.
One stone actually pierced the twin toughened glass of the Shatabdi express and landed inside coach C-4. The glass panes of two other coaches suffered damage as well.
Police officials said they were trying to identify whether the miscreants were youth or children and also whether the attack was deliberate or just another incident of stone throwing on trains.
The attack is being viewed seriously by Haryana police as well Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials as the train had a VIP guarded by the Special Protection Group (SPG) on board.
Incidentally, none of the stones hit the C-3 coach in which Mr. Rahul Gandhi was seated on a window seat.
The SPG did not allow the train to stop at Panipat station.
Mr. Rahul Gandhi, who chose to make his Delhi to Ludhiana and return journey in an air—conditioned chair car coach instead of flying in a helicopter or taking an executive class seat on the train, alighted from the train at the New Delhi station just after 11 pm on Tuesday. He looked unperturbed.
However, fellow passengers said the incident had left them disturbed.
“A child who was sitting next to the smashed window could have been hurt. If this has happened because of Rahul travelling on this train, it would be better if such VIPs don’t travel with the public. The stone hit the window like a bullet and landed in with glass pieces,” one passenger said.
Mr. Rahul Gandhi had made the day-trip to Punjab’s industrial city of Ludhiana to participate in a training camp for Youth Congress leaders. He took the train early from New Delhi station and returned late in the evening.
The Congress MP from Amethi followed his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi in travelling economy class. The 38-year-old Congress leader chose to travel by train as part of the party’s austerity drive because of the drought in many parts of the country.
Sonia Gandhi had on Monday travelled by a routine Delhi-Mumbai flight on an economy class seat as part of the austerity drive.