AGARTALA: Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy's "railway tracks sabotage" claim irked political parties in the state on Monday, with both the ruling Left and the opposition Congress terming the allegation "unwarranted amid the election process".
Congress leader Pijush Biswas and Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Gautam Das told the media separately that "in the midst of election process, the Governor's claim is totally unwarranted... the two incidents took place long back".
Governor Roy on Saturday tweeted that "sabotage" was being attempted on the newly-laid broad-gauge Agartala-Udaipur (southern Tripura) railway line in the state and demanded a probe.
"...Removal of fish plates and an attempt at sawing through a rail have been reported. I am in touch with General Manager NF Railway and the state government," Roy said in his tweet on Saturday and in an interview to a local television channel on Sunday.
"As a former railway engineer, I know the nitty-gritty of the railway engineering."
A senior official of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), on the condition of anonymity, said that the NFR General Manager Chahatey Ram in a report to the Governor earlier this month said two cut marks of half-an-inch and an-inch on the southern Tripura-bound railway tracks had been found. "This was not a major issue."
"A total of 132 pandrol clips and metal liners had gone missing from a railway track. The RPF (Railway Protection Force) and Tripura Police officials accompanied by railway engineers had visited the two spots and everything had been set right. Police had arrested three children," the NFR official said quoting the NFR GM's report.
The NFR official said: "Such type of incidents occurred across the country. As the pandrol clips contain high quality steel, thieves sometimes steal these to sell them in the market."
Superintendent of Government Railway Police (GRP) Nagendra Debbarma said: "Some fish plates on the tracks were cut about one and a half months ago but later the engineers repaired those. These areas are not under the GRP, they fall under the RPF."
"We are always on maximum alert to provide security to the railways and the passengers," Debbarma told IANS.
Tripura Pradesh Congress Vice President Pijush Biswas said that the Governor's "immature claim would create panic among the passengers".
"There might be some stray incident involving the railway operations. If the Governor came to know of such incidents he should alert the appropriate authority and the state government."
"The Governor's statement is dangerous and alarming. As a constitutional head of a state, he should not make any such public statement which would create law and order problem," said Biswas, who is also a senior lawyer and the Chairman of the Tripura Bar Council.
CPI-M Central Committee member Gautam Das, terming the Governor's statement "misleading and confusing", said when the NFR engineers and workers had been laying railway tracks in Tripura, the outlawed terror outfit National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) had attacked them several times.
"The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) has recently forged an electoral alliance with the NLFT's political organisation Indigenous People's Front of Tripura. Why the Governor raised the old petty issue during the election process, he knows better," Das told the media.
BJP Spokesman Ashok Sinha more or less supported the governor's statement.
Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey told IANS: "In the middle of election process, I would not make any comment against the Governor. However, we did not get any communication from the Governor on this issue."
Elections to the 60-member Tripura Assembly will be held on February 18.
Civil Engineer-turned-politician Roy, a former member of the BJP National Executive and a state president in West Bengal (from 2002 to 2006), took charge as the 16th Governor of Tripura on May 20, 2015.