Trains have become soft target of any kind of violence that happens in the country. Whether it is a riot or it is a protest, burning trains is the most visible thing in any type of violence. Interestingly, in most of the cases there is no fault of railways or its administration but still it is caught in the emotional outburst of the angry clan. The most recent example is that of protests against ‘Agniveer’ scheme of the government where the candidates were angry about cancellation of CEE exam for recruitment into army and their anger over suspension of exams led to emotional outburst and the anger was vented on trains by burning them. Witnessing burning of trains is a painful event. The ‘Hungry for cargo’ railways was unreasonably stopped and certain limbs of it were put on fire. Some of the trains were just fully burnt and turned to ashes.
But who will do the last rites of these burnt trains? Who will float its ashes into the holy water? Who will come? Protestors, taxpayers or Railwaymen. Protestors will not come because for them burning of trains was just an act of showing anger and for them, it may be justified to burn trains since they may feel that their loss is much bigger than burning the trains. The taxpayers won’t come because this invisible owner doesn’t know how to react and they feel that it is government’s job to manage its own affairs. They may be right also since they are paying tax to government to ensure Law and order. So, ultimately it comes to government who will have take the responsibility and the railwaymen will be given the role of ‘karta’ to give peaceful burial to the burnt trains.
As a karta, Railwaymen has one single thought pondering on his mind. What was the fault of railways in the whole scenario? Our mornings and evenings are all about transporting passengers and cargo. In fact, in last few years, we have tried to improve ourselves and make the experience of passengers better but yet no one crossed the thought of ‘guilt’ before burning the trains. Why burning trains does not bestow moral guilt on people? After all they have destroyed passenger’s journey, taxpayer’s money and railwaymen’s sweat. The coaches which were improved over the years were burnt, the stations which were redeveloped were damaged and the effort of railwaymen was put on fire.
The major problem of recurring incidents of train burning pose serious questions on why such incidents happen and happen largely with impunity. The first major reason for this is lack of societal or political remorse for burning of trains. There can be remorse for lost people in riots but never has the society expressed its deep remorse and regret on burning of trains and destroying the efforts of so many people who are trying to fulfill travel plan of others. Till there is a realization that trains are not a punching bag of the emotional burst but a lifeline which needs to keep running in the worst of times, such kind of incidents will always keep on happening.
The second major factor for the above event is dual control of state and centre government of railway policing system. Railway assets are protected by Railway Protection force governed by centre and Ground Reserve Police of the state government is responsible for law and order around stations. There is an urgent need to review this dual control and to put in place a strong security system which is more away from political slugfest and is focused on prevention of such incidents. Strong policing is a great deterrent for such incidents. To press the point , one can see that the army is present all across the country but rarely any kind of protest is likely to happen around the army area even if the issue belongs to the defence forces itself as in the present case. The answer is simple: a strong policing system is crucial to prevent such incidents and to delete the thought of burning the trains in case of any emotional outburst. The trains too have a ‘right to life’ and its repeated violation should be immediately stopped.