Officials hold joint survey of rail route

Reconnaissance: Officials inspecting the track between Sakleshpur and Subramanya Road stations on Tuesday.

Reconnaissance: Officials inspecting the track between Sakleshpur and Subramanya Road stations on Tuesday.  

Shama Sunder

Spots vulnerable to naxalite activity in process of identification: Chikkerur

Landscape between Hassan-Mangalore railway route being surveyed

As many as 50 spots have been identified, says police officer

HASSAN: Inspector-General of Police (Railways) K.S.N. Chikkerur and Deputy Inspector-General of the Railway Protection Force C. Thamodaran on Tuesday jointly inspected the railway track between the Sakleshpur and Subramanyam Road stations on the Hassan-Mangalore sector. Travelling on a mechanised trolley, they found as many as 50 vulnerable spots where naxalites could possibly hide and operate from.

Speaking to this correspondent who accompanied the team, Mr. Chikkerur said that of late naxalites had been targeting both goods as well as passenger trains. There had been incidents in north India where they had hijacked passenger trains and set them afire. Hence, the joint survey so that vulnerable spots could be identified. The track passes through the Western Ghats.

Mr. Chikkerur said that in 2007, a railway engine had fallen 200 feet below into a crevasse between Donegal and the Yedakumari Railway Station. The 1,000-tonne engine was still lying at the spot as it was impossible to lift it. Only a crane weighing 1,600 tonnes could do the job, but it could not be brought on to the bridge on which the track runs. Mr. Thamodaran said the cost of lifting it would be more than that of the engine itself.

Mr. Chikkerur said this was their second such inspection of the region. “We have tried to identify spots where naxalites might possibly operate from. There are 57 tunnels and a number of sensitive bridges en route. There are also certain spots that are on a higher altitude as compared to the railway track. The very fact that naxalite movement has been detected in the region only after their departure from the spots shows how convenient the spots are,” he said.

Mr. Chikkerur said there was also credible information that many naxalite leaders preferred to travel incognito by train and this had been revealed during police interrogation of some of them. He also said there were a number of incidents to show how vulnerable the Railways was and how easy it was for anybody to carry explosives or murder passengers without being caught. “The authorities are taking whatever steps they can to prevent such incidents,” he added.

Mr. Chikkerur also said that recently Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram convened a meeting of leaders from naxalite-affected States and told them that Muppala Lakshmana Rao, also known as Ganapathi — the CPI (Maoist) general secretary, had moved down south. He directed the southern States to be on high alert as Ganapthi could pose serious problems to the security of the region. Mr. Chikkerur felt there was every possibility that some naxalites may be hiding in Kerala. Mr. Thamodaran said the Railway Protection Force was taking steps to prevent possible attacks.

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