HOMELAND SECURITY: Driver abducted from train – Bodo rebels snatch pilot, assistant from Sonitpur – still don’t understand how a peaceful solution always wins in the long run ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY PULLOCK DUTTA
WITH INPUTS FROM SAURAV BHAGAWATI
Jorhat, Aug. 29: Bodo militants jumped into a slow-moving goods train, forced rail staff to apply emergency brakes at gun-point and dragged away the pilot and his assistant after quizzing them about their salaries near a Sonitpur station this morning.
The dramatic rail abduction by the anti-talks faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland is probably the first of its kind in the state’s insurgency history.
The militants chose the pilot and his assistant after they blurted out their salary figures at gunpoint, while the other railway employees on board quoted lower figures.
Carrying foodgrain, the train travelling from Rangapara in Sonitpur district to Bhalukpung in Arunachal Pradesh, was just 8km from the destination when a militant, wearing black battle fatigues, jumped into the brake van. The train was moving at just 15km per hour at the time — as trains usually do on this metre gauge hill section.
“He (the militant) held a gun at us and ordered us to stop the train by applying the emergency brakes. As the train came to a halt, three more youths attired similarly boarded the brake van. While three of them had small arms, the other was armed with an automatic rifle,” Braja Mohan Sinha, a pointsman, told The Telegraph.
Two militants kept watch on guard A.M. Baruah, goods clerk Saumir Dutta and Sinha, while two more walked up to the locomotive of the three-rake train and brought locopilot A.C. Phukon, assistant driver N.C. Borgohain, and a gateman, Arjun, to the brake van.
“They started asking us our salary,” Sinha said.
While the driver and the assistant driver mentioned that they earned between Rs 17,000 and Rs 18,000 per month (while they actually earn between Rs 20,000-25,000), the other railway employees said they earned between Rs 7,000 and Rs 8,000 (though they earn between (Rs 15,000-17000).
“The militants, after holding a discussion among themselves in Bodo, forced the driver and the assistant to accompany them,” Sinha said.
Ten minutes after the militants left, Sinha walked about 12km to an army camp and reported the incident.
The PRO of Northeast Frontier Railway, S. Hajong, said the train started from Rangapara station at 7.55am. Bhalukpung is the last station in this meter gauge section of the NFR and only goods trains ply on this stretch.
The train was brought back to Rangapara station around 2pm to be greeted with protests by railway employees demanding more security for trains running in the “vulnerable” section.
The railway workers’ union held a dharna at Rangapara station demanding security for railway employees and action to secure the release of the driver and the assistant driver.
They decided not to allow plying of trains from Rangapara to Bhalukpung till their colleagues were released.
Sonitpur superintendent of police, Jitmol Doely, said a search operation has been launched in the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh to rescue the hostages.
They were in all probability taken to Arunachal Pradesh, he said.