Mamata warns of strong action against rail sabotage

Howrah: The Railways would take strong action against acts of sabotage targeting rail network and those preventing such incidents would be given jobs in the organisation, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said today.

"Acts of sabotage will not be tolerated. Railway tracks are being cut. Pandrol clips are being opened. Signals are being rendered inoperative. It is not possible to police every inch of track. If anyone prevents sabotage, the Railways will give him a job," she said at a function at Howrah station.

Appealing to newspersons to keep a vigil against acts of sabotage, she said if any of them reports such an act, his family would also be offered a job in the Railways.

"The general managers of the Eastern, South Eastern and Metro Railway will let you know where to report such acts," Banerjee said.

Calling upon the railway employees to keep a watch on every kilometre of railway track, he said those doing good work in maintenance aspects would be rewarded.

Without naming any political party, she said, "Do not kill people for your political interest. Do not cause mishaps by sabotage."

Referring to the killing of Umakanto Mahato, a prime suspect in the Jnaneswari Express disaster, in an encounter with the police, she said, "If they think they can wipe out evidence by killing a prime suspect in the Jnaneswari Express sabotage, it is a wrong theory."

Pointing out that the Jnaneswari Express mishap had taken place ahead of the civic elections, she felt acts of sabotage in the Railway could also take place ahead of the Durga Puja.

After the Jnaneswari Express derailment, Banerjee had claimed that ruling CPI(M) could be behind the incident. Noting that 14 lakh people were employed with the Railways, Banerjee said that while "one or two" of them could be involved in acts of sabotage, a majority of the employees worked with "military discipline".

"If any political party asks you to do anything bad, do not listen. Do not do anything bad even if I tell you to do it. Political parties may come and go. But the railways are an institution. This institution has to be saved," Banerjee advised railwaymen.

She said that as part of a safety-related scheme, jobs will be offered to an offspring of a railway employee if he opts for voluntary retirement after 20 years of service.

The Railway Minister announced a reward of Rs 50,000 to the driver of the Rajdhani Express whose timely action saved the train from being derailed at Baruipara on August 30.

On the CPI(M)'s allegation that she had failed to fill up two lakh vacancies in the railways that had accumulated in the past years, Banerjee said, "You were there (with the UPA-I). Why didn't you fill it up?"

Altogether 36,000 applications for Group-C posts were now being processed, she said adding that applications from SC/ST, minority and ex-servicemen candidates as well as those excelling in social and cultural sectors were being scrutinised.

"We have to fill up these vacancies. Or else, there will be problems because infrastructure is expanding," she said.