Union minister Selja, the Congress MP from Ambala, seemed to be a target when a coach of the newly launched Kalka-Shirdi superfasttrain was targeted by stone throwers Sunday.
Selja, who flagged off the train and boarded it from Kalka till Chandigarh for a symbolic inaugural run, was hit by a stone on her shoulder. The stone hit her when she was sitting at a window seat. She was attended to by a doctor and later left for New Delhi. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) registered a case and is still investigating the matter.
The minister, who is not on the best of terms with Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his group in the highly factionalised Haryana Congress, did not point fingers at anyone. "They could be miscreants or it could be due to the situation I am facing in Haryana," Selja was quoted as saying, making it clear that the attack could well be a conspiracy.
What is baffling in the entire incident is that the stone hit her directly and the other coaches remained untouched.
Selja is seen as a prominent dissident in Haryana politics along with Rajya Sabha MP Birender Singh and Gurgaon Lok Sabha MP and former union minister of state for defence Rao Inderjit Singh. All these leaders have been at loggerheads with Hooda, who has been in power since March 2005.
Though trains daily traverse hundreds of kilometres in Haryana's territory, there have been only two well-known incidents of stones being pelted at passengers.
Before the Selja incident, the Amritsar-New Delhi Shatabdi Express was targeted September 16, 2009, near Gharaunda town, 140 km from Chandigarh. The train had a VVIP passenger in Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who was travelling back from Ludhiana in a chair-car compartment.
This attack too was a curious one. Three coaches of the train were targeted. While coaches C-2 and C-4 were hit, Rahul's coach, C-3, escaped being hit. One stone, in fact, pierced the twin toughened glass of the train and landed inside compartment C-4.
The police blamed some teenagers for the incident but, no, the last word is yet to be said on why this particular train was targeted. For years before and after the incident, there have hardly been any instances of the Shatabdi train crossing Haryana being stoned.
Haryana's Congress leaders or the party's government could be better placed to uncover the truth behind these curious stone attacks. So far, they have stone-walled any information in this regard.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org)
--IANS (Posted on 12-10-2013)