Hit-and-run stoning trains unstoppable!

Md Esaraf Hossain

16 September, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Unidentified miscreants continue to throw  stones or brick chunks at running trains plying across different routes including Dhaka-Chattogram, creating panic among commuters.

The repeated incidents of stoning the moving trains make the railway authorities worried as the incidents make the journey unsafe. 

Meanwhile, railway police on Saturday arrested three youths on charges of hurling stones at the Dhaka-bound intercity train “Godhuli Express” from Chattogram near Akhaura railway station Friday night.

The arrestees were identified as Laden, 19, of nearby Birasha village of Brahmonbaria Sadar, Ridoy, 18, of Radhanagar village of Akhaura and Akid, 20, in the same area.

In the face of police interrogation, they disclosed their involvement in throwing the stones of the running train.

Officers-in-Charge (OC) of Akhaura Railway Police Station Shyamol Kanti Das said they were involved in throwing stones to the running trains for long.

Earlier, they also hurled stones or brick chunks to the trains, added the OC.

Earlier, another case was also filed against them for the same reason, he added.

According to railway sources, about 2,000 people have become the victims of stoning across the country in the past six years while Bangladesh Railway incurred a loss of about Tk1.75 crore while repairing damaged windowpanes.

According to railway officials, they had identified 66 spots — 36 in east and 30 in west zones — under 14 districts where such incidents were frequent.

The districts are Chattogram, Feni, Sylhet, Narsinghdi, Chuadanga, Natore, Sirajganj, Pabna, Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Bogra, Gaibandha, Jaipurhat and Khulna.

Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujon recently in a statement said some miscreants are trying to make the train journey unsafe by hurling brick chunks at running trains. The minister urged all to build awareness to prevent such incidents.

“Some train passengers sustained injuries or even died when brick chunks hit them,” he added. Recently, the miscreants hurled stones at a train when Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was travelling to the northern part of the country by the train.

However, she escaped the incident, but a window of the train was damaged. The incident created a panic among the passengers.

Apart from the incident, a four-year-child Jishan and his mother received injuries in their heads as the hurled stones hit them at Padma Express on Sunday.

Now, the child has been battling for his life at a hospital. “Hurling brick chunks or stones at any train is a serious crime,” the minister said.  He called upon the people, living near rail lines, to remain alert about the criminals and hand over them to the law enforcers. He also asked the law enforcers to identify the culprits and take action against them if any vested interests are involved with the incidents. Hurling stones at the running trains is neither a rare phenomenon nor does it happen in a particular place.

It takes place at almost every corner across the country. Of such many incidents, a very few came out in media reports.

In 2013, Priti Das, a young female engineer, met such a fatal incident.

She, accompanied by her husband Mintu, boarded Turna Nishitha train and set out from Chittagong for a four-day trip to Dhaka with a view to spending the vacation with some members of their relatives.  When the train reached Bhanga Bridge area of Bhatiari under Sitakunda upazila, Priti was hit hard by stones hurled by some reprobates while she was asleep. She shrieked and became unconscious by the hit. Instantly, she was taken to Sitakunda Health Complex and later shifted to Chattogram Medical College Hospital where attending doctors declared her dead.

In the next year, a similar incident was reported near Shitakundu Station where Arup Chakraborty, a bank official, reportedly sustained severe injuries in his eyes after being hit by a stone thrown by an unidentified miscreant and permanently lost one of his eyes.

Although Bangladesh Railway (East Zone), following the tragic death of Priti Das, had launched a campaign from Pahartali in Chittagong to Feni to build awareness among people living beside railway tracks to stop throwing stones at trains, the campaign could not prove successful since the news of such untoward incidents still appear in our social and mass media.

On April 4 this year, at least 21 train passengers received injuries by stones thrown by jute mill workers in Narsingdi, the last day of their 72-hour strike.

Jute mill workers in the district observed the 72-hour strike to press home their nine-point demand including implementation of the wage commission.

Workers of the state-owned UMC Jute Mill blocked the Dhaka-Sylhet and Dhaka-Chattogram rail routes for one hour from 10am.

During the blockade, they threw stones to Chattogram-bound train ‘Karnaphuli Express’, leaving 20 of its passengers injured, said witnesses.