Secunderabad station violence: Surrounded by smoke, screams and slogans

A damaged window of an AC coach following the violence at the Secundrabad railway station on Friday.

A damaged window of an AC coach following the violence at the Secundrabad railway station on Friday. | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Counted among the most beautiful railway stations in the country, the Secunderabad railway station resembled nothing less than a battleground on Friday.

On entry, an unusually empty platform no.1 showed workers putting out flames from train bogies with water from the side-filling pipelines. Gunny-packed motorcycles, parcels, trash bins, coffee machines, refrigerators and railway linen were strewn on the tracks and platforms, and were partly ablaze.

The broken window glasses of the East Coast Express (Hyderabad-Shalimar) on platform no.2, the passenger lifts, and the destroyed audio-video and security equipment offered a glimpse of the just-concluded vandalism and riot. Locomotives were damaged up to platform number eight and smoke was still billowing from the torched bogies.

“It was about 8.40 a.m., just when the train was starting to move. The protestors started from the engine, hit the driver with a pipe and stalled the train. Then tens and hundreds of them came bogie by bogie, breaking glasses, or pouring diesel and setting it on fire,” Rajiv, a platform stall operator, said.

“It was the screams and cries of the children and women that rang like alarm for nearly 45 minutes, till all the passengers deboarded and ran pell-mell in every direction,” he added.

For Santosh Kumar, who was sitting on his damaged aluminium food cart and making inventory, the other loud sound from the platforms was of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, ‘Modi down down’ and ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ slogans.

Other stall operators Ravi Rajawat, Sonu and Pratham Tomar recounted how they left their businesses and ran to safety. They estimate their losses to be to the tune of ₹3 lakh. Platform no.2 alone has five food stalls and four movable carts.

According to them, there were nearly a thousand youngsters armed with long sticks, who picked steel rods from the station’s railings and fire extinguishers for the attack. They terrorised passengers in general coaches, broke glasses of all AC coaches and burnt the linen, and torched the luggage and the Railway Mail Service.

Of all the eyewitnesses, and survivors on the 22 coaches, three employees of the South Eastern Railways on the train have a satisfying story to remember. It was the generator car, positioned just after a bogie that was on fire from the engine, which was under the control of Suman Kumar Sharma, and his mechanics Ram Pyari and Albert Barla.

“It had about 4, 000 litres of fuel. Any attack or damage to it would have caused a disaster and killed hundreds. We disconnected the mains and supply underneath, locked the car and guarded it throughout, saving lives of all passengers,” a content Mr. Sharma said.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2022 7:09:11 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/secunderabad-station-violence-surrounded-by-smoke-screams-and-slogans/article65537295.ece