Terriers, the unsung heroes of the key rail project in Manipur

The arrival of the train in this remote place cheered all the people of the southeastern region of Manipur

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

The arrival of the train at this remote location not only brought applause to the entire population of the southeastern Manipur region, but also silent satisfaction to the soldiers of the Territorial Army (TA), who have assumed a responsibility key and even gave their lives. for the Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal railway project.

Around midnight on June 29 this year, a huge landslide hit the company base of operations of the 107 TA Infantry Battalion, comprising the 11 Gorkha Rifles soldiers, deployed near Tupul railway station in the district of Noney to Manipur to protect the Jiribam railway line under construction. at Imphal.

No less than 30 TA soldiers, including an officer, died among the 61 victims of the natural disaster. The currently operational 54 km railway line, which crosses the scenic Makru and Barak Valley before reaching Khongsang, is a stretch of a strategically important plan to eventually link Moreh through the railway network under the Policy Act East of the Center.

It has 19 tunnels and 9 major bridges with a maximum height of 105 meters through the hills. This section of the railway line covers about 300 km in almost seven hours from Agartala to Khongsang while a road trip takes about 19 hours to cover a distance of 600 km currently. The remaining 56 km of the railway line to Imphal is expected to be completed by December 2023.

While infrastructure development in terms of rail network is expected to help Manipur immensely through better transport connectivity between local populations, the Indian army will also have the advantage of faster troop mobilization.

The railway project, which was granted the status of a “national project” linking Manipur to the rest of the country, however faced many security problems at the beginning when various militant groups based in the northeast engaged in extortion, kidnappings and indiscriminate killings.

Central paramilitary forces were initially tasked with containing the cycle of violence in the region. But given the continued threats against railway staff and the spiral of violence resulting in work stoppages and a mass exodus of contractors, workers and employees, the railways finally approached the ministry Defense to ensure security.

According to the Army’s Eastern Command, the “terriers,” as TA soldiers are affectionately known, rose to the daunting challenge by staying true to their ethos and professionalism. Their tenacity, hard work and determination created a safe environment where the railways could work unhindered and succeed.

He said: “Rail authorities have been extremely grateful for the safety cover from the TA which has enabled them to achieve their objective. The TA continues to be deployed and quietly provides a conducive environment for the North East Frontier Railway to complete its remaining part of the Khongsang project in Imphal.”

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