Two Rajdhani trains catch fire

The fire incident at New Delhi Railway Station’s maintenance yard on Tuesday, in which six coaches of two Rajdhani Express trains were gutted, has once again turned the needle of suspicion towards gangs of urchins operating in and around railway station maintenance yards.

“We are investigating the case from all possible angles, which include a probable major short-circuit in either of the trains — both having generators for uninterrupted operation of air conditioner in all coaches – and alleged role of urchins reportedly witnessed around maintenance yards. However, it is too early to conclude anything until the investigation is over,” said a source in Delhi Fire Service.

The role of urchins in the alleged sabotage of trains first came into foreground during the investigation of a similar case in May 2012, in which three coaches of two different trains were gutted in two separate incidents of fire within half-an-hour at the maintenance yard in Old Delhi Railway Station. In that incident, the first fire broke out around 10.45 am in the luggage van of the Faizabad Express. While fire officials were busy dousing that, another fire was reported in a sleeper coach of Satyagrah express. However, there were no casualties in either.

Fire and police officials could both sniff alleged foul-play in the entire episode, with the highest level of suspicion on urchins often seen near the maintenance yards, many a time looking for valuables or allegedly doing drugs. They were often caught trying to steal electronic appliances from train coaches and, at times, they could get aggressive, said a police official. He further said, that incident a case had been registered for causing mischief with fire and damaging public property in this connection. A similar incident was reported in 2008 as well.

However, the Delhi Police have ruled out the probable involvement of urchins in the incident and maintained that preliminary investigation suggests that this is a case of negligence, leading to a suspected short-circuit. The police claimed to have cleared off the areas around railway station maintenance yards. “The police make sure that urchins do not loiter around maintenance yards,” said a senior police official seeking anonymity. “Investigation of the case is underway and nothing can be concluded as of now,” said Sanjay Bhatia, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Railway).
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