Secunderabad station violence: Officials bushwhacked, damage pegged at ₹3 crore

Smoke billows out of a passenger train coach at the Secunderabad railway station, after it was set on fire during a protest against the Agnipath scheme on Friday.

Smoke billows out of a passenger train coach at the Secunderabad railway station, after it was set on fire during a protest against the Agnipath scheme on Friday. | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

The South Central Railway (SCR) was caught unawares on Friday morning when agitators, armed with sticks, burst onto the tracks and platforms of the Secunderabad station, and ran amok. It was only after the stone-pelting and coach-burning began that senior officials got alerted.

Unofficial estimates put the extent of damage to railway property at more than ₹3 crore. While the agitators were removed by the police around dusk, senior officials said the scheduled trains would be run from the station later at night.

When the violence erupted, there were three outgoing trains lined up — Secunderabad-Danapur on platform no.1, East Coast Express on platform no.2 and Sabari Express towards Kerala on platform no.5. There were four incoming trains too — Garib Rath on the Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad route on platform no.4, Rajkot-Secunderabad Express on platform no.6, Raipur-Secunderabad Express on platform no.8 and Ajanta Express from Manmad on platform no.9 apart from an MMTS train on platform no.10.

In all, eight of the 10 platforms at the premier station had trains with at least a couple of them filled with passengers when the news was flashed to senior officials by the security about mobs going on a rampage at about 9 a.m. And, before anyone could realise the gravity of the situation, parcel vans were set afire and passengers on the East Coast Express bound for Howrah sent into a state of panic not knowing where to go as the protesters came rushing in, brandishing sticks and damaging the kiosks on the platform.

Two coaches each of the East Coast Express and Manmad Express were torched while window panes of the Rajkot Express, Raipur Express and MMTS train towards Falaknuma were damaged along with other trains too. Bedrolls of different trains were completely gutted, informed senior officials.

There was no damage to the Secunderabad-Danapur Express as it was shunted back to the maintenance yard once the violence began. “Clearly, it was pre-planned, but we had no warning from the police. We immediately alerted the local police when the mobs started indulging in arson but by the time the forces arrived, the damage had been done. But, it is shocking that it took about nine hours to remove the agitators from the station premises,” they said.

The only relief for the SCR officials was that the agitators left the tracks, bolts, signal and communication equipment and other key infrastructure untouched. This helped them commence normal train services once the agitators were removed from the station premises.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 2:25:49 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/secunderabad-station-violence-officials-bushwhacked-damage-pegged-at-3-crore/article65537726.ece