Train set on fire near India-Bangladesh border, four killed and many injured

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A train travelling from a town bordering India to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, was set on fire by unidentified miscreants on Saturday, killing four people and injuring many others, officials said.

The incident

The incident took place around 9:30 pm local time, when the train was approaching Tongi station, about 20 kilometers north of Dhaka. According to witnesses, some people threw petrol bombs at the train, causing a massive fire that engulfed several coaches. The fire brigade and the police rushed to the spot and doused the flames after about an hour. The injured passengers were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment.

The motive behind the attack is not clear yet, and no group has claimed responsibility for it. The authorities have launched an investigation into the incident and are looking for the suspects. The train was carrying about 500 passengers, mostly migrant workers and traders, who were returning to Dhaka from Darshana, a town near the India-Bangladesh border in the western district of Chuadanga.

The reaction

The incident has sparked outrage and condemnation from various quarters, including the government, the opposition, and the civil society. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her deep sorrow and shock over the incident and instructed the authorities to provide the best possible treatment to the injured and compensation to the families of the deceased. She also ordered a thorough probe into the incident and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Train set on fire near India-Bangladesh border

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) also condemned the incident and demanded a fair and impartial investigation. BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the incident was a “barbaric and inhuman act” that exposed the “failure and incompetence” of the government in ensuring the safety and security of the people. He also alleged that the government was trying to divert the attention of the people from the “growing public discontent and anger” over its “misrule and corruption”.

The civil society groups and human rights activists also denounced the incident and called for an end to the culture of violence and impunity in the country. They said the incident was a “heinous crime” that violated the basic rights of the people to life and mobility. They urged the government to take effective measures to prevent such incidents in the future and to ensure the rule of law and justice in the country.

The background

The incident is not the first of its kind in Bangladesh, where train accidents and attacks are common due to poor infrastructure, maintenance, and security. In November 2023, at least 16 people were killed and 58 injured when two trains collided head-on in Brahmanbaria district, about 100 kilometers east of Dhaka. In October 2023, at least seven people were killed and 20 injured when a gas cylinder exploded on a train in Sirajganj district, about 130 kilometers northwest of Dhaka. In July 2023, at least four people were killed and 100 injured when a train derailed in Moulvibazar district, about 200 kilometers northeast of Dhaka.

According to the Bangladesh Railway, there were 749 train accidents in the country in 2022, resulting in 204 deaths and 1,382 injuries. The railway authorities have blamed the accidents on various factors, such as human error, mechanical failure, sabotage, and natural disasters. They have also claimed that they are taking various steps to improve the railway system, such as upgrading the tracks, signals, and coaches, installing CCTV cameras and fire extinguishers, and enhancing the security and surveillance.

However, the experts and analysts have said that the railway sector in Bangladesh is plagued by chronic problems, such as lack of funds, resources, and manpower, corruption and mismanagement, political interference and patronage, and weak governance and accountability. They have also said that the railway sector needs a comprehensive and holistic reform, involving the participation and cooperation of all the stakeholders, including the government, the opposition, the civil society, and the donors.

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