Persisting train attacks raise alarms in Kerala

Over the past 20 months, a staggering 56 instances of stone pelting have been documented along the Kozhikode to Mangalore stretch.

KANNUR | Updated: 17 August, 2023 10:46 am IST
Cracked window glass of Vande Bharat Express after stone pelting.

KANNUR: The disturbing and enigmatic series of train attacks in northern Kerala have escalated into a grave concern for both the railway authorities and security agencies. Another incident occurred near Mahe in Kannur, where the Vande Bharat Express was targeted with stone pelting, shattering windows and unsettling passengers on Wednesday.

The consistent onslaught on trains traversing the Kozhikode to Mangalore route over the past two years has ignited pressing inquiries about the motives behind these attacks, along with apprehensions regarding the effectiveness of safety and security measures undertaken by railway officials.

Despite heightened vigilance by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the police, the hunt for an organized group behind these assaults remains inconclusive. Many cases have left culprits unidentified and at large, often leaving little traceable evidence.

“The unceasing targeting of trains and passengers is a grave concern, and we are treating the matter with utmost seriousness. Thus far, no definitive evidence has surfaced to suggest the involvement of any specific radical group in these attacks. In some instances, the assailants appear to be under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Given that most incidents occur during late hours, tracing the culprits becomes challenging,” disclosed a senior railway official from the Palakkad division to The New Indian.

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Over the past 20 months, a staggering 56 instances of stone pelting have been documented along the Kozhikode to Mangalore stretch.

Railway authorities have recorded 32 cases of stone pelting in the Palakkad division during 2022, with 23 more cases reported in 2023.

In 2022, a majority of incidents were concentrated between Kozhikode and Kannur stations, accounting for twelve cases. This year, the toll has risen to eleven cases between the same stations, along with three incidents between Kasaragod and Mangaluru stations.

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The Railway Protection Force and local police have registered five cases in 2023, a figure surpassing the previous years.

On April 2, a tragic event unfolded as three individuals, including a baby, lost their lives when a 27-year-old man ignited a fire onboard the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express train near Korapuzha bridge, Elathur in Kozhikode. Nine others sustained burn injuries in the incident, and the three casualties were discovered on the tracks.

Subsequent to this incident, security measures surrounding railway lines and stations have been bolstered, with an increased deployment of RPF personnel during nocturnal jour

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