Working for Railaways in Naxal Zone

One of the vehicles given to use for visiting the sites
One of the vehicles given to use for visiting the sites

Probationers in Indian Railway get unique opportunity to traverse length and breath of this country. I think no other service gives this much exposure in travelling as the Indian Railways. In other services, probationers are taken on ‘Bharat Dharshan’ but we are literally on Bharat Dharshan at any given moment of time.

I have recently been to some naxal affected areas of Jharkhand as a part of my field training.  In field training , probationers are sent to actual construction sites of Railways. It is quite obvious that construction activities take place in far off areas from the cities. Those areas where railway has not reached have been left behind in the developmental process.

Construction unit in field is headed by Deputy Chief Engineer who is a JAG grade officer. He works under Chief Engineer who sits at headquarter. Under Dy. CE there are many Inspector of works, assistant executive engineers and executive engineers for carrying out the work. This whole organisation is separate from open-line setup. Separate offices, resthouses and other infrastructure is developed for construction organisation. The head of construction organisation in a zone is Chief Administrative Officer who reports to General Manager.

Government of India’s policy is to counter naxal and maoist narrative with the prospect of development of the state. Development is really the effective antidote for any kind of extremism and insurgency. In this respect , Railways is seen as the major force behind any kind of growth story. There are  many Railway projects going on in Jharkhand. I have to Hazaribagh-Ranchi site. As you move away from Hazaribagh towards Chatra forest range, the threat perception of naxals increases significantly. It is not like you will always encounter naxals in these areas, but all the contractor and govt. officials work in their shadow. As of late, contractor is more harrased than govt officers. Basically he has to pay levy to them for working in their areas. Sometimes vehicles are burnt, sometimes labors are threatened , basically an atmosphere of fear prevails which is not healthy for developmental process.

Given all the circumstances, Government has to work through its agencies , one of which is Railways. We represent the will of the state and in doing so we have to exert our authority on behalf of Government of India. We have to construct new line inspite of all the challenges which lies before us. So the first thing is to motivate yourself and your subordinates for working on the project because such kind of post are considered as punishment posting. Once you have made your mind then only you can move forward. So the first hurdle is you prepare yourself. Infact in civil services, the exposure is more while in railways the contact is limited. So they face greater risk in working in these areas. You must have heard of DM’s being kidnapped or the attack on police convoy. For the Railways threat is not only to officers but also to thousands of passengers who are travelling on these routes.

The essence of public service is developing the most backward areas of our country. People write lofty answers in the examination but the real test lies here. It should not be said that officers alone can bring about change. Primarily it is the responsibility of politicians to be harbinger of change. It is they who make the policies and we implement it. So a backward state ruled by good politicians should be the idea place for true civil servant. Similarly a backward state ruled by corrupt politicians is the most unsuitable place to work. Sometimes, this works as feedback loop in which poor people are main victims. All the politics in our country is played in the name of poor but he always remains poor. Officers play a very small part, their main role is the effective implementation of task given to then by their political masters. In IES, there can’t be much interference because nature of job is technical and it can’t be left to discretion of anyone.

My personal experience from this tour was quite positive. In these areas , there is natural beauty tarnished only by the acts of men. We went to different construction sites:

IMG_20151103_170319 IMG_20151107_163805

Apart from extremist challenge , there are engineering challenges which is our main work here.

IMG_20151108_160058873_HDR IMG_20151103_163139

 

We also went to that site where naxals had burned contractor’s vehicle. In the name of ideology, this has become an extortion business and our pseudo-intellectuals posing as champion of human rights should come down to see what is being done in name of ideology. There is a severe need of pushing for growth in terms of infrastructure development in these areas. It only through these means that government can counter the narrative of left wing extremism.

We reached here when it was almost dark
We reached here when it was almost dark, Threat perception is greater here.

 

Mud houses of tribals
Mud houses of tribal settlers 

We stayed in Guest houses at different places. This is one big advantage with railways that we never have to think about travelling and staying in any part of country. Our seniors always take care of us. They make sure that we face no problem whatsoever.

Overall this was an enlightening experience which definitely enriched our perspective of this great nation. In probation there is an opportunity to experience in real what you have studied in theory. It gives you a glimpse of your career ahead. The diversity of work and the challenges ahead are put before us in detail. Also, the probationary period gives us unique opportunity to look into the actual working of government organization without having to bear any kind of responsibility.

Thank you

 

15 Replies to “Working for Railaways in Naxal Zone”

    1. There is not one book which covers every aspects in all details.
      However ‘Shah and KArve’ and PC vergheese are good books.
      Also listen NPTEL lectures and look to solved examples in coaching institutes.

  1. Hi,
    I would like to thank you for writing a post on this matter. I guess this journey might have been one of those which really inspires to work for the people and development. It is the service minded people like you whose work would contribute towards well being of the people in general, and backward and tribal people in particular. Your analysis was spot on but the only point where one could differ is your description of “human rights activists”.
    In the growth story of this country the tribals and the backward people living in remote areas have been neglected. The forests and other sources of their livelihood were snatched without adequate compensation to them in return ( money was siphoned off by officers). Even their claim to their lands and sources of livelihood was categorically refuted. You wouldn’t be surprised that the tribals and poor have borne disproportionate costs but the benefits to them, if at all any, have been meager.
    This is where the human rights activists come into picture as these tribals and backward people do not any strong political lobby. You would find that around 40 million tribals, dalits and minorities have been displaced, rendered homeless, jobless and scarred for life.
    Of course the ideology of left wing extremism should be condemned in clear terms and there is no reason for any person to condone violence carried out by any means for any purpose but the “human rights activists” are fighting for the rights of everyone affected including the contractors and others and they offer compassion and care to everyone who needs it.
    The narrative by the media houses which is financed by corporates and serves their interests has been very critical of these activists. But they are the voices of the unheard. They are trying to do their best and if there is development and tribals are also protected and made beneficiaries of this development process then there is no doubt they would participate in the process. Human rights activists are not anti- development as they are made out to be. Their only concern is out reduce the human suffering, so the objective is same as development.
    And you were spot on when you said that today LWE is bereft of any ideology and has become extortion business.
    You and your organisation (IR) is doing a great job!!! Much appreciated!
    Hope it indeed brings life (and happiness) into the nation.

    Thanks.

    1. You are absolutely right in your observation. Human Rights Activist is a very broad term , and indeed they play an important role in democratic process. My point in this article was that it is wrong to defend acts of violence in the name of ideology. Moreover on the ground real causes have been left behind and extortion business is going on.

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