New Delhi, Feb 9: The Indian Railways has witnessed an exceptional jump in “sabotage” cases with around 18 incidents reported in the last 40 days of 2017. The incidents to disrupt train operations have caused serious concerns over safety in the railways. In the first 40 days of 2017, the Indian Railways has witnessed disruption attempts by placing boulders, concrete slab, stone slab or rail pieces on tracks across the country, from Lucknow division, Mumbai, Waltair, Allahabad and Malda. Also Read - 'Stop Sowing Discord Between China, Regional Countries': Beijing Slams Mike Pompeo's India Visit

Witnessing a series of rail mishaps, which were although foiled by the vigilant railway staff on duty, the railways has issued directives to all employees and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to remain alert and strengthen patrolling. “Cases of man-made obstructions, tampering of track and removing fish plates have been detected by rail staff in recent days,” said an official who also gave the details of 18 sabotage attempts on railways. Also Read - India-US 2+2 Dialogue: China on Cards, Rajnath, Jaishankar Seek to Bolster Bilateral Partnership

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In Lok Sabha,on Wednesday, railway minister Suresh Prabhu expressed concern over “unusual” and “sudden” rise in “Sabotage” attempts saying that there were 18 attempts so far in 2017 and alleging that they were made to sabotage rail tracks and carry out explosions. He said there were seven “blast attempts” and three cases of attempted sabotage, among others.

Mentioning that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was investigating a case related to derailment of a train near Kanpur in UP, Prabhu said there were “unusual” activities in the last few days and some incidents were averted due to the alertness of railway personnel. “I won’t be able to comment on the NIA investigation. One thing is for sure that there has been an unusual activity in the Railways in the past few days. We have noticed that there are several sabotage attempts. When we noticed them, we handed over the matter to the NIA,” said Prabhu.

Prabhu had also written to home minister Rajnath Singh seeking a detailed investigation by the National Investigation Agency into the recent railway mishaps. He also listed six incidents of “possibility of criminal interference by outsiders”.

n October, last year, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was detected on a railway track in Ghorasahan which later on was safely defused by the police. On November 28, 2016, the Indore-Patna Express train went off the tracks near Kanpur, killing over 140 passengers and injuring many more. On December 28, 15 coaches (13 sleeper coaches and two general coaches) of Ajmer-Sealdah Express (no.12987) derailed near Rura (around 70 kilometres from Kanpur). More than 50 people were injured, as per the reports. On January 21, at least 39 people were killed after nine coaches of Hirakhand Express derailed near Kuneru station, Andhra Pradesh.