Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday accused a section of the employees of deliberately delaying passenger trains in West Bengal to “serve the interest of their narrow political purposes.”
Speaking at a function to flag off six new trains from the Howrah station, Ms. Banerjee said: “A certain section of railway employees might owe allegiance to different colours (political parties), but they should not deliberately delay trains and cause passenger inconvenience. I have already asked the railway officials to take precautions against such incidents.”
Asserting that she was not politically biased while discharging her duty as the Railway Minister, she pointed out that passenger security, which could not be compromised, was her topmost concern.
“I would like to challenge those who behave like cowards by striking at railway property and killing innocent people, to come out in the open and fight with me politically rather that playing with people’s lives,” Ms. Banerjee said, indirectly lashing out at her political opponents.
The six new trains are: the Howrah-New Delhi Weekly Yuva Express, the Howrah-Yeshwantpur Weekly Duronto Express, the Howrah-Haridwar Express, the Kolkata-Bikaner Weekly Express, the Sealdah- Amritsar Weekly Express and the Howrah-Purulia Bi-Weekly Express.
Referring to the incident where the alertness of patrolmen helped avert a major train accident between Gidhni and Jhargram in the small hours of Wednesday as suspected Maoists had damaged railway tracks, she announced that any person who helped the railway avoid accidents would be rewarded.
Pointing out that a survey done by the Railways revealed that around 800 to 1,000 people were killed in rail accidents every year, Ms. Banerjee said that participation of common man was necessary to avoid such accidents.
As a token of her appreciation for such saviours, she announced that a 19-year-old youth from Canning in the State’s South 24 Parganas district would be awarded with a railway job as he had helped avert a major accident as a seven-year-old in 1997.
Ms. Banerjee also said that the Railway department would set up a museum dedicated to Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore near the Howrah station. She added that the museum would be named ‘Rabindra Museum’ and showcase writings of Tagore on the railway system in the country.