Railway seeks BGB help for security
The Bangladesh Railway seeks support from Bangladesh Ansar and paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) to guard its infrastructure as growing attacks on its network by blockaders threaten rail communications.
Some 2,528 Ansar personnel had already been deployed at 632 risky points, said railway officials. They added BGB jawans would also be deployed if the attacks continued.
Railway has a 1,600-member Government Railway Police (GRP) force and 1,949-member Railway Nirapatta Bahini (RNB). But the number is not adequate to guard the vast network that includes 2,835-kilometre tracks and 456 stations.
“We have also deployed four armed Ansar men in every passenger and freight train,” Md Abu Taher, director general of Bangladesh Railway, told The Daily Star. He said two armed Ansar men would always remain standing at the front of the train.
“We have a plan to deploy two more Ansar men in every train,” he said, adding, the BGB high-ups were ready to extend their support. “We will get their help whenever we want.”
Taher said GRP and NRB members were regularly monitoring risky tracks with motor and push trolleys. The Ansar men were helping them too, he added.
To avert an untoward incident, the railway authorities have reduced speed of all trains during the opposition-enforced programmes. “The usual speed of a train is 70-80 kilometres per hour. Now we keep it within 40 km,” said the DG, adding, railway staff were working round-the-clock to keep the service on.
Insiders said guards in civil forces were also deployed in stations, trains and other risky points to catch the attackers. Seven people had so far been arrested, while 13 cases were filed in connection with the attacks on railway during the ongoing blockades, added Abu Taher.
Railway service was the main target of the blockaders during last week’s blockade enforced by BNP-Jamaat. Train services were severely disrupted as they uprooted lines and fishplates, damaged rail bridges and vandalised and torched trains.
Around 1,376-metre tracks were uprooted between Koshba and Akhaura. Tracks were also ripped in Lalmonirhat, Comilla and Rajendrapur, resulting in derailment of trains that injured dozens. Three coaches of Sirajganj Express were burned down in Ishwardi last week.
“Attacks on rail tracks took place in 40 places during the four-day blockade last week. The estimated loss was Tk 6 crore,” said the railway DG, adding, they had incurred a loss of Tk 26 crore during attacks by Jamaat-Shibir after their leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death in a war crimes case.
He said he had never seen such attacks on railway in his 35-year career. “Rail operation is very challenging in this situation, but our entire workforce is working round-the-clock to keep the operation on at any cost,” added Taher.
LOSS OF BRTC
The state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) has incurred a loss of Tk 41.68 crore between April 2012 and November 2013 due to the opposition-called programmes like hartal and blockade.
The activists of BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance vandalised at least 153 BRTC buses, causing a loss of Tk 5 crore, Communications Minister Obaidul Quader told a press conference at his Secretariat office.
The Corporation had to count a loss of Tk 7.42 crore as the opposition men torched at least 32 vehicles including 11 double-decker and articulated buses during the stipulated time, he added.
The BRTC had also faced revenue losses worth Tk 29.26 crore in the last 20 months, Quader said.