Hyderabad

Railway Mail Service coach gutted in Secunderabad station arson 

Disaster Response Force personnel clearing a train coach of the charred consignment which was set ablaze during a violent agitation against Agnipath scheme at the Secunderabad railway station on Friday.

Disaster Response Force personnel clearing a train coach of the charred consignment which was set ablaze during a violent agitation against Agnipath scheme at the Secunderabad railway station on Friday. | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Burning from blue to greenish, a palm-sized booklet, among hundreds such stitched in a cloth bag, had the words ‘Republic of India’ embossed in golden.

“Sir, these are passports,” shouted a worker, alerting his superior officer. “At least some of them, thank god,” the latter sighed with satisfaction, as he quickly recovered and placed them away.

The senior officer of India Post attached to Secunderabad railway station’s terminal mail office, along with his 14 colleagues, was near coach D3 of the East Coast Express (Hyderabad to Shalimar 18046) on platform no.2 on Friday, segregating valuable mail from burnt debris for close to six hours.

Marked ‘RMS’ – Railway Mail Service – and positioned in the penultimate series, seat numbers 1 to 40 of D3 are reserved for services of India Post. The coach contained nearly 430 bags of mail to be delivered to various destinations on the train route to Shalimar station in Howrah district of West Bengal.

“As a practice, three of our postal staff were in the coach with the consignment. When the protestors first came to attack, we requested them to leave as the mail contained important and urgent documents from across the country,” a survivor said.

But they returned in larger numbers, threatened the staff, poured diesel all over the coach and torched it. “We were briefly stuck inside and inhaled the smoke as the door malfunctioned from their banging. But a little later, we managed to jump out with whatever mail we could carry in our hands,” the man in his 50s shared.

Using side-filling pipelines, the workers kept dousing the flames, and others tried sneaking in fast to grab some more bags, even as the billowing smoke discouraged further efforts.

Visibly, in the debris, there were passports, bank and policy documents, certificates and books. Stacks of envelopes and bags containing unknown valuables were gutted in the compartment as they could not be retrieved.

According to officials, who remained committed to segregating valuables in whatever condition they were found in, 70 bags of mail had been recovered by by 8.30 p.m. Of the total 430 bags of consignment, 200 were unregistered mail and the remaining comprised registered mail, parcels and speed posts. Approximately, each bag contained at least 20 orders.

While the first action was to “recover as much as possible”, officials said the procedure would involve thousands of customer complaints in the coming weeks and the reconciliation work would go on for at least two months.

As per the rules, and the insurance procedure, certain compensation would be offered “but the loss is irrecoverable”. India Post officials said a full evaluation of the loss and further procedures were being worked out.

The three survivors from the RMS coach said it was a lucky escape. “We were literally shaking as the door did not open initially, but then, we survived,” they said with a sigh of relief.


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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 6:58:22 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/railway-mail-service-coach-gutted-in-secunderabad-station-arson/article65537944.ece