Vande Bharat pelted with stones in Bengal’s Malda; BJP demands NIA probe

MALDA: Just a few days after its inaugural run, the Howrah-New Jalpaiguri Vande Bharat Express was pelted with stones in West Bengal’s Malda district, prompting the BJP to demand an NIA investigation into the incident.

No injuries, however, were reported in the incident that took place near Kumarganj railway station, around 50 km from Malda town, on Monday evening, a Railway official said.

The glass door of coach number C13 of 22303 Vande Bharat Express was damaged in the incident, he said.

Kumarganj falls under the jurisdiction of the Katihar division of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

The train was not stopped mid-way after the incident took place at 5.10 pm on Monday and it halted at its designated stoppage at Malda Town railway station, the official said.

Malda Town railway station Government Railway Police (GRP) IC Prashant Rai said that Railway Protection Force (RPF) is investigating the matter.

The train was flagged-off virtually by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Howrah station on December 30.

Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari wondered whether the incident was “revenge” for the raising of ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans at the inaugural function in Howrah station.

“Unfortunate & sickening. Stones pelted at India’s pride Vande Bharat Express in WB’s Malda district. Is this revenge for ‘Jai Shree Ram’ chants on the Inaugural day? I urge @PMOIndia & @RailMinIndia to handover the probe to @NIA_India & punish the perpetrators. @AshwiniVaishnaw,” he tweeted.

BJP workers had raised ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans at the inauguration programme, as a result of which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refused to get up on the dais from where the train was flagged off.

Attempts by Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Governor C V Ananda Bose to pacify her did not bear fruit, as she chose to sit on a chair below the dais along with the audience.

The incident had created a major controversy, with the Trinamool Congress taking exception to the raising of “political slogans” at a government programme, made more solemn by the death of the mother of the prime minister, while the BJP tried to downplay the incident, with Vaishnaw saying that nothing had occurred to cause any angst as party workers often raise slogans.

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