Featured 20 Oct 2022 Terriers, the unsung ...

Terriers, the unsung heroes of key rail project in Manipur

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | RAJIB CHOWDHURI
Published Oct 20, 2022, 1:26 pm IST
Updated Oct 20, 2022, 1:26 pm IST
The Territorial Army soldiers keep a vigil on the hills for safe train movement at the vital railway project in Manipur. (Photo by arrangement)
 The Territorial Army soldiers keep a vigil on the hills for safe train movement at the vital railway project in Manipur. (Photo by arrangement)

Kolkata: It was a momentous occasion  for the natives of villages like Oinamlong, Kambiron, Thingou and Khongsang in Manipur when the first passenger train, Agartala-Khongsang Jan Shatabdi Express, was flagged off by President Droupadi Murmu on October 13.

The arrival of the train in the remote location brought not only cheers to the entire people of South East region of Manipur but also a silent satisfaction to the Territorial Army (TA) troopers, who have been shouldering a key responsibility and even laid down their lives for the Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal railway project.

Around the midnight of June 29 this year a massive landslide struck the company operating base of the 107 TA Infantry battalion, comprising the 11 Gorkha Rifles soldiers, deployed near Tupul railway station in Noney district of Manipur to protect the under-construction railway line from Jiribam to Imphal.

As many as 30 TA soldiers including an officer died among 61 victims in the natural disaster. The presently operational 54 km-long rail line, which passes through the picturesque valley of Makru and Barak before reaching Khongsang, is a stretch of a strategically important plan to eventually link Moreh by railway network as part of Act East policy of the Centre.

It has 19 tunnels and 9 major bridges with the maximum height of 105 meters across the hills. This section of the rail line covers around 300 km in nearly seven hours from Agartala to Khongsang whereas a road journey takes around 19 hours to cover a distance of 600 kms currently. The remaining 56 kms of rail line to Imphal is expected to be completed by December in 2023.

While infrastructure development in terms of the railway network is bound to help Manipur immensely through better transport connectivity among local people, the Indian Army will also have an advantage of faster mobilization of troops.

The railway project, that was accorded the status of “National Project” connecting Manipur with rest of the country, was however dogged with numerous security problems in the early stages when various North East-based militant groups indulged in extortion, abductions and indiscriminate killings.

The central paramilitary forces were initially tasked to contain the cycle of violence in the region. But in view of continuing threats to the railway personnel and spiraling violence resulting in stoppage of work and mass exodus of contractors, workers and employees, the railways finally approached the defence ministry for provision of security.

According to the Eastern Command of the Army, the “Terriers,” as the TA soldiers are fondly called, took upon the daunting challenge, by staying true to their ethos and professionalism. Their steadfastness, hardwork and determination resulted in creating a safe environment where the railways could work unhindered and achieve success.

It said, "The railway authorities have been extremely appreciative of the security cover by the TA which has enabled them to achieve their goal. The TA continues to be deployed and silently provides a conducive environment to the North East Frontier Railway to complete its remaining part of the project from Khongsang to Imphal."

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