Railways want security before reconstruction work in Kashmir


Jammu : The railways has apologised to the Jammu and Kashmir government for the delay in reconstructing stations and tracks damaged during the trouble in the Valley, an official said, adding that the “sense of security” needed for its staff and property was missing.

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The railways wants an irrevocable guarantee of security and safety from the state government before reconstructing the tracks and railway stations damaged during the ongoing agitation in Kashmir.

“Exact damage is yet to be assessed as the situation is not conducive to make a fair assessment of the losses suffered by the railways,” an official of the Northern Railways told IANS.

“We have said ‘sorry’ in very plain words to the state government. For restoration of rail services in the Valley (suspended since July-end), there is need for a sense of security and safety, and that’s not there,” he added.

The protesters, armed with stones and rods, uprooted several kilometres of tracks on the Qazigund-Baramullah rail link. From Qazigund in south of Kashmir to Baramullah, the railway track runs 120 km north.

More than 150 non-local employees of the railways have fled Kashmir. They have refused to join duty unless there was a guarantee of safety of life and property.

At a time when policemen and their vehicles are being targeted, it is difficult for the state government to give a firm assurance that mobs would not cause any harm to railway property, official sources said.

Railway officials and state government authorities discussed the matter of the railway services in detail at a meeting in Srinagar Tuesday.

Railway officials said in the meeting, also attended by Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda, that property was damaged as well as stolen because of the absence of security. Railway stations in Budgam and Sopore were also burnt down.

Though there has been a decline in acts of violence ever since hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani appealed for “peaceful protests” and urged the protesters not to damage public property early this month, attacks on police and paramilitary forces have not completely stopped.