‘Intel failure or allowed to happen to embarrass Centre?’ Railway officials, BJP question Secunderabad station violence

The Railways Police and Hyderabad City Police are claiming that they were taken by surprise when a mob attacked Secunderabad Railway Station Friday morning. One person died and several others were injured when the police opened fire at a mob that went on a rampage.

The protestors, claiming to be Army recruitment aspirants opposed to the Centre’s Agnipath scheme, went on a two-hour spree of mindless destruction and arson not only damaging railway property but also private properties like motorcycles and household goods kept at the parcel office on platform one.

However, questions are being raised how Telangana Police’s famed Intelligence Department missed the obvious signs of a build-up around the railway station since Thursday night. “In spite of knowing that violent protests were held the previous day at railway stations in other states like Bihar, why didn’t the police take any precaution at the railway stations, especially at Secunderabad, which is the biggest in this region? The mobilisation and calls for violence were done openly on WhatsApp groups all over Telangana, how did the police miss it? Something does not add up,” a railway official said.

The allegations that the violence by the protestors was allowed to happen to embarrass and put the BJP government at the Centre grew shriller as all of a sudden the protestors decided to end their protest without any reason at 6 pm on the dot.

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Without police intervention, the protestors fled from the railway tracks on their own. The police took 42 persons in custody while they were fleeing from the railway station premises after they identified them for arson at the railway station. Secondly, as per the protestors’ demand to speak to an Indian Army Recruitment Officer (ARO), the officials of Hyderabad Police’s North Zone arranged a meeting with an Army recruitment officer so that 10 to 20 protestors could meet the officer at his office.

However, the protestors declined saying that either the officer comes and meets them or they all should be allowed to go to the recruitment office. “This is when the Railways Police and Hyderabad Police called their bluff and chased them away from the railway tracks. They were there just to create trouble. When they were engaged in a discussion, they dispersed,” an officer said.

“The protestors who claimed to be Army recruitment aspirants were sitting on railway tracks for several hours but within one minute after 6 pm, all the protestors left. It was like a clockwork plan,” an official said. Several railway officials also questioned Additional Director General of Police (Railways, Telangana) Sandeep Shandilya’s decision to requisition a force of just 50 personnel to secure the Secunderabad railway station spread over several acres with 10 platforms and with seven different entrances while news was coming in from other states that trains were being attacked by protestors.

“There were already reports that protestors in many states were targeting railway stations and trains to draw the Centre’s attention to their demand for long-term Army recruitment instead of the new four-year period of service. Instead of boosting security at Secunderabad, which is an obvious target, why was such a small force protecting it?” an official asked.

Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar alleged that the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) government allowed the violence to happen to put the BJP at the Centre in a tight spot. “The Telangana government has allowed the destruction of the railway station. The protestors are TRS and AIMIM workers who went on a rampage. The violence by Congress workers Thursday was also allowed by the state government. Misinformation about the Agnipath scheme has been spread by TRS which led to the state-sponsored violence,” he said.

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