Passengers faced difficulties due to suspension of trains at the Rawalpindi Railway Station on Friday during a protest by railway staff against arrests of their six colleagues by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in a case of theft at the Loco Shed.
They remained stranded at the station till filing of this report, while some of them opted to use other means of transport after returning their tickets at the counter.
The protesters locked the Loco Shed for an indefinite period and demanded release of six staff members, terming them innocent. They burnt tyres at the Rawalpindi Railway Station and forcibly stopped all trains. They said that all trains from Peshawar to Karachi would be stopped if their colleagues were not released. “The Railway Police was fully involved in the theft, but the FIA arrested railway staff members,” they alleged.
The FIA arrested Assistant Mechanical Engineer (AME) Rana Amanullah, Loco Shed Foreman Malik Muhammad Ashraf, Loco Foreman Haq Nawaz, Charge Man Muzammil Hussain, Carpenter Muhammad Nawaz and Driver Muhammad Ashraf.
According to FIA officials, the agency has registered an FIR of theft against them and obtained their four-day physical remand for further investigation.
On December 25, 2010, a theft took place at the Rawalpindi Loco Shed in which 11 radiators worth more than Rs25 million were stolen. Assistant Mechanical Engineer Loco Shed Rana Amanullah and five others lodged an FIR of theft. However, after an inquiry the FIA arrested them and registered a case against them.
Railway Mazdoor Union President Maqbool Hussain, in his speech during the protest, demanded of the government to immediately release what he termed innocent railway staff members. “They are the ones who lodged the FIR of theft. They are not accused,” he said. He said that the FIA should arrest officials of the Railway Police, who are involved in the case.
Railway Mazdoor Union General Secretary Mubarak Hussain said: “We will stop trains from Peshawar to Karachi if the FIA fails to release our colleagues immediately.” It is impossible to steal heavy radiators without the involvement of Railway Police officials,” he alleged.
When ‘The News’ contacted Divisional Personnel Officer (DPO) Faiz Ahmed Khan, he said that the FIA has adopted a biased attitude by arresting applicants in the case. They should arrest officials of the Railway Police as well, he said. The theft could not be done without the help of railway staff members as well as Railway Police, so FIA should investigate both parties, he said.