The blasts at Central, a major railway hub and among Chennai’s most famous landmarks (reported on May 2), show that the security apparatus is still vulnerable to being subject to tremors. That it happened in tranquil Chennai is shocking, but what is to be admired is that the State and Railway Police swung into action and ensured that calm was restored, with the train resuming its journey in a few hours.
The next government at the Centre must ensure that security in public places is tight and that there are proper checks at crucial hubs.
The Indian Railways has a vast network but that doesn’t exempt it from ensuring the safety of its passengers. Steps should be taken to improve security at all stations and on trains. When one travels by train, one comes across numerous wayside stations with hardly any infrastructure. These can be ideal staging posts to carry out terror attacks. Will the authorities wake up to this?
And at major junctions, more security gadgets, CCTV cameras and dedicated security personnel can help reassure a rail passenger. Travellers in unreserved coaches must also be checked.
The theory is that the bomb was not meant to go off in Chennai but while the train was moving and far away. Nevertheless, the fact that it happened at a major junction shows that lessons do not seem to have been learnt from the 2006 Mumbai rail blasts which resulted in a heavy toll in terms of both life and property. It is a fact that security personnel at stations are meant more to psychologically reassure passengers that there is some semblance of security. It is easy for a terrorist to slip into a station without being noticed and then create havoc. One can easily place a bag on a crowded platform and slip away. Just the other day there was a report that ticket examiners are to protest against what they perceive to be an increase in their workload. If this is the attitude of front-line railway staff, how can a passenger expect to travel with peace of mind?