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Special train to northeast attacked in Bihar, returnees abused

A worker spraying disinfectant on people at the Danapur station on May 24, 2020.

A worker spraying disinfectant on people at the Danapur station on May 24, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

Returning workers subject to ethnic abuse and violence at Bihar station

In two incidents in Bihar in the last 24 hours, a special train from Haryana, carrying some 1,300 people home to the northeastern States was attacked, and 12 passengers on a bus from Madhya Pradesh were abused and threatened.

The journey for the returnees from Haryana was incident-free until their train stopped at Danapur in Bihar early on Sunday morning. Trouble started when the passengers, mostly young persons from northeastern States, refused to let several people waiting on the platform into the train.

“We did not allow the people to board the special train because of the COVID-19 threat. At that they attacked the train and broke the window panes with sticks and stones,” reported T. Ngullie, one of the passengers.

Police inaction

Her co-travellers said the police remained mute spectators as the people hurled abuse and threatened to burn the train down. They also accused the police of beating some of the returnees in the train instead of disciplining the violent crowd.

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“This happened after we had spent more than 20 hours on the train without food and water,” said Franto Tohoi, another passenger. He added that the train, which was supposed to be a direct service, was making long halts at several stations. “At this rate, we don’t know when we will reach our destinations.”

Subhanan Chandra, the chief spokesperson of Northeast Frontier Railway said the matter had been raised with officials of the East Central Railway. “It was a minor issue [which] the security personnel handled. The train is on the move and is being escorted by the Railway Protection Force,” he said.

CPRO of East Central Railway Rajesh Kumar told the media that there was a minor scuffle between passengers for seat at Danapur railway station. Amid the scuffle, someone had thrown a stone, breaking a window pane of the train. However, the train later left the station with security, he said.

Responding to reports from the passengers, Robin Hibu, a Delhi-based IPS officer from Arunachal Pradesh, said he had discussed the matter with Additional Director-General of Bihar Police, Kundan Krishnan. “He directed the local police to take strict action. I have requested him for strengthening railway security during these days when special trains run to the northeast ,” Mr. Hibu said.

The passengers, however, said they could find no RPF personnel on board. “People are thirsty and hungry too,” said Imdad Hussain, a worker returning to Assam’s Barpeta district.

Passenger dies

As the train made the long cross-country journey from Gurugram at 5 p.m. on Saturday with people from Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, a woman from Dimapur, who was suffering from liver ailments, died in the train.

Her body was taken to a hospital in Kanpur after the train reached the station on Saturday night.

“After medical examinations, we are taking the body to Nagaland in an ambulance,” said Iraheu, a friend of the woman who detrained at Kanpur along with a man from Nagaland.

Corona taunt

In another incident of abuse, members of a group from Nagaland, who were returning home in a bus from Madhya Pradesh, said they were racially abused when they stopped in Bihar for food on Saturday.

“Twelve of us had stopped by a roadside eatery when some men came up, hurled abuses and called us coronavirus,” said Mhathung Ezung, who worked at a wildlife lodge at the Pench National Park.

He also said members of the group were denied the use of washrooms at a couple of petrol pumps on the way.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 7:39:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/special-train-to-northeast-attacked-in-bihar-returnees-abused/article31665071.ece

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