NATIONAL

Special patrol on trains from Bihar

KOLKATA NOV. 13. Armed RPF men have been deployed in trains running to and from Bihar in the Malda railway division of the Eastern Railway in West Bengal in the wake of Wednesday's violence in Bihar's Jamalpur station where students from the region beat up more than 30 passengers belonging to Assam. Jamalpur falls within the railway's Malda security division.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from Malda today, A.K. Jyoti, Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF, said that about 70 personnel of the RPF's Special Force had been requisitioned. Patrolling would continue for a fortnight.

The RPF Special Force had also been despatched for temporary duty at the Jamalpur station. Senior officials said the Jamalpur-Bhagalpur section, often used by students, was ``particularly vulnerable''. Wednesday's incident, however, has taken the authorities by surprise.

The train was bound for New Jalpaiguri in north Bengal but had to be diverted to Maldastation where the injured were treated. It left for its destination later in the evening.

Normally, there are no RPF patrols on trains. Constables of the force are deployed on platforms mainly for checking transhipment of cargo.

The RPF authorities in Malda face a severe shortage of the personnel in the division.

Nearly 50 per cent of the posts have been lying vacant for almost two years, according to Mr. Jyoti. Court cases have held up recruitment.