Stone-throwing at trains passengers’ dread

Incidents of stone-throwing at running trains have created panic among the passengers. The latest incident of stone throwing at a Chattogram bound intercity running train Suborno Express near the Meghna Gumti Bridge in Cumilla on Tuesday evening, caused serious concern among passengers and authorities concerned.

At least four people received injuries when window panes of the train were damaged. In recent days, incidents of stone pelting at running trains have increased.  And the repeated incidents of stoning running trains are making the railway authorities worried as the incidents are turning journeys unsafe.  

Most young people pick up stones and throw them at trains without knowing the consequences of their actions.  These offenders choose the evening and night to throw stones targeting the running trains when they cross the open spaces.

According to the railway ministry sources, there are 2,929.59 kilometres railway lines across the country. A total of 332 passenger trains are now being operated throughout the country with a total 460 railway stations.

The stone throwing incidents at running trains mostly occur in 15 districts of the country. 

The railway authorities identified 70 to 72 spots as stone throwing spots. And incidents of stone throwing are being reported from these spots.

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

At least two thousand incidents of stone throwing at trains took place in the last five years. As a result, a number of persons died and many others received serious injuries.

“Besides, glasses of windows and doors of the trains were also damaged,” an official of the railway department said.

In the wake of growing incidents of stone throwing, Bangladesh Railway authorities have also launched an awareness-raising drive to check such incidents.

The railway ministry sources said, over 150 incidents of stone throwing at running trains take place each year on an average.

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 in repairing damaged window panes.

On several occasions, the railways ministry sent separate letters to UNOs and OCs concerned of those districts through the Inspector General of Police for measures to prevent the incidents.

Earlier, the ministry also sent letters to the Cabinet Division to inform the deputy commissioners concerned to hold meetings, and it also sent a letter to the Islamic Foundation for Imams to play a role through religious speech for raising awareness about such incidents among people.

Besides, the superintendents of police of those districts have been asked to take necessary steps regarding the problem through the Home Ministry.

According to the Railway Act, a stone-thrower will face 10 years’ imprisonment for injuring a passenger and be sentenced to death for causing death to any passenger.

Security personnel and attendants discharging duties in trains have been asked to remain alert to put an end to stone throwing at running trains.

Directives have also been given to the security forces and the attendants discharging duties in each compartment of the trains to be more aware of and cautious about the stone throwing at trains.

In September last year, stones were also thrown at a train in which Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was travelling to the northern region of the country. 

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

Stone throwing came up for discussion following the death Prity Das in such an incident while she was travelling to capital Dhaka with her husband in ‘Turna Nishita Express’ in 2013 .

After being stone-hit, she was rushed to the nearby Sitakunda Upazila Health Complex in Chattogram, and then transferred to Chattogram Medical College Hospital where doctors declared her dead.