In a pre-dawn arson attack yesterday, some suspected Chhatra Shibir men torched five coaches of the Dhaka-bound Subarna Express at the Chittagong Railway Station.
Following the arson, Government Railway Police (GRP) rounded up two youths — Md Ehsan, 23, a student of a private university in Dhaka, and local vendor Md Mithu, 25, — at the station.
Later, taking lead from the two, the GRP detained five more people at the city’s Halishahar, said Nazrul Islam, superintendent of GRP in Chittagong.
The railway authorities suspended station master Mahbubur Rahman and three other officials for negligence of duties. Besides, Railway Nirapatta Bahini suspended its habildar Manjurul Alam and guards Jasim Uddin and Raihan Ali.
Quoting witnesses, station manager ANM Shamsul Islam said the train was parked at platform number-5 around 4:50am when some miscreants poured petrol on it and set alight the five coaches in the middle of the train and fled the scene.
Six firefighting units from Agrabad and Nandankanan fire stations rushed to the spot and doused the blaze around 5:50am. None was injured in the incident, said sources at Fire Service and Civil Defence headquarters in Chittagong.
The train left Chittagong Railway Station for Dhaka at 8:45am, one hour and 45 minutes behind its schedule, after replacing the burnt coaches.
Superintendent of GRP Md Nazrul Islam said six people were directly involved in the arson attack.
During primary interrogation, the five detainees admitted that they are members of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, he added.
The authorities estimated the loss caused by the fire at around Tk 6 crore. A four-member probe committee has been formed by the Bangladesh Railway (east zone) to investigate the arson attack and submit a report by today, said Md Rokanuzzaman, divisional commercial officer of the zone.
A case was filed with the GRP outpost of Chittagong Railway Station in this connection.
MINISTER VISITS STATION
Railways Minister Mujibul Haque visited the Chittagong Railway Station yesterday evening to see the damages caused by the arson attack.
Talking to journalists, he blamed Jamaat-Shibir men for the attack and urged people to protect public property.
Attacks on trains and railway tracks have become a regular occurrence in the country since February 28 when Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal-1 for committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
On March 3, activists of Jamaat-Shibir set ablaze three coaches of a train in Rajshahi. The following day, some Jamaat-Shibir men set fire to three coaches of a train in the capital and to an abandoned locomotive in Chittagong.
Miscreants torched a coach of another train at Mymensingh Railway Station on March 26.
At least 30 passengers were injured on April 2 when six coaches of a Chittagong-bound train from Dhaka derailed in Comilla after suspected Jamaat-Shibir men removed several fishplates from the railway tracks.