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Guwahati: Fifteen people died of asphyxiation and several others were taken ill in central Assam’s Karbi Anglong district on Friday night when they were trying to pilfer fuel from wagons after detaining a goods train.
The police have so far recovered eight bodies while local villagers put the figure between 15 and 20 and claimed that some bodies had been taken away by the miscreants before the police reached the spot. Police claimed that two of the deceased were identified to be cadres of the militant National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah).
Karbi Anglong Superintendent of Police K.K. Sharma told The Hindu that the incident happened at Siding between Dhansiri and Rangapahar railway stations between 11.50 p.m. and 12.30 a.m. The site is about 5 km from the Assam-Nagaland border, he said.
“Miscreants boarded the wagons after the train came to a halt and attempted to siphon off fuel by immersing suction pipes after breaking open the seals and the lids of the wagons. We suspect that the gas formed over the spilled fuel might have suffocated the miscreants and killed them instantly. We have recovered eight bodies. Five miscreants, who were seriously taken ill, have been hospitalised. Their interrogation is expected to provide us more leads,” the SP added.
The police recovered about 500 plastic drums near the railway track which were brought for collecting the pilfered fuel. The goods train with 48 wagons of high-speed diesel and petrol was transporting the fuel from the Numaligarh refinery and was bound for Mugalsarai in Uttar Pradesh. The train resumed its journey at 1.20 a.m.
The SP said that since April this year, five similar cases had been reported. “However, this time they came for pilferage on a massive scale and there could be about 200 to 300 miscreants, mostly from the neighbouring State.”
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