Home guards to shield rail tracks

Rail authorities in Tatanagar have sent a proposal to the state home department seeking deployment of home guards on tracks to bolster security under Ranchi and Chakradharpur divisions, which have been witness to acts of sabotage by Naxalites.
The proposal aims to cover the network of tracks falling under the jurisdiction of the superintendent of railway police in Tatanagar, Mritunjay Kishore, under whose initiative the step has been taken.
He said the authorities were hopeful that the state department would soon accept the proposal.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Kishore pointed out that home guards were being posted to protect railway tracks in a few states already, including neighbouring Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, both affected by left-wing extremism.

“The idea for engaging home guards for protection of railway tracks was taken from Odisha. As various parts of our region are battling the Naxalite problem, we have also decided to follow the same model,” said the superintendent.

Kishore said the proposal ‘ sent to the home department as well as the South Eastern Railway authorities ‘ was discussed during two meetings between rail officials at Chakradharpur earlier this month.

“The home department in Odisha bears the responsibility of making payments of salary and establishment costs for engaging home guards. We expect that the home department in Jharkhand will follow suit,” he added.

Kishore said the home guards guarding the tracks would not be armed, but equipped with communication gadgets such as wireless sets and walkie-talkies to alert the railway police and officials on spotting anything dubious.

A number of stations falling under Chakradharpur and Ranchi divisions are considered sensitive in view of Naxalite presence.
Under Chakradharpur, Posaita, Manoharpur and Galudih-Ghatshila sections have witnessed a number of sabotages engineered by Naxalites.
Similarly Lohardaga, Gumla, Simdega, Khunti and Seraikela-Kharsawan are all Naxalite-hit districts falling under the Ranchi division.
When asked, Kishore said the authorities were yet to determine the number of guards to be posted, adding it would be decided after a go-ahead.
Home guards are recruited by the home department on temporary basis and paid wages for providing assistance to the police in maintaining law and order.


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