One civilian was injured in a mild intensity blast on Monday in Hubballi Railway station that points to major procedural lapse by the Railway Protection Force (RPF), according to the railway police.
According to the police, RPF personnel found an unattended bucket with a lid inside a train that had arrived at 11.20 am to Hubballi from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. RPF personnel then took the bucket near the station master’s chamber where they tried to check the contents of the bucket, which included some small plastic boxes.
“The RPF asked a local vendor to open a box and that’s when the blast happened," said a senior official from the Railway police, requesting not to be named.
The right palm of Hussain, a local vendor, was injured as the blast happened when he opened one of the boxes, the official cited above said. He is currently undergoing treatment at a local hospital and is out of danger.
It was only after the blast that local police, bomb squads and other personnel arrived at the scene.
The decision to involve an untrained, unqualified and unequipped civilian to open the suspicious package is raising questions on the ability of the RPF to handle such situations at a time when there have been reports of threats across the country.
Especially at a time when there have been reports of possible terror threats targeting places with high footfalls like railway stations, malls, public gatherings, religious establishments and other places.
The security head of RPF in Hubballi could not be reached for comment.
The police are investigating the incident as well as the alleged procedural lapses.
The developments took another turn when Jagadish Shettar, the minister of large & medium scale industries and the legislator from Hubli Central, alleged the involvement of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in the incident. “These are unrelated comments that are being misinterpreted," he clarified. “I said that the incident should be thoroughly investigated," he said.