Facebook page India First circulated a cartoon on December 21 depicting the recent stone-pelting on Agra-Delhi bound Train 18 during its trial run. The train is scheduled to be flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 29. The caricature showed PM Modi seated on the driver’s seat, steering the train (‘vikas express’) on the tracks to ‘New India’. On both sides of the train, the cartoon placed leaders of Opposition parties hurling stones at it, and the text on the image read – “विकास विरोधियों ने ट्रायल के दौरान ट्रैन-18 पर पत्थर फेक के शीशे थोड़े (People against development hurled stones at Train 18 during its trial run and broke its windows.)”
There are West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee and AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi on the left, and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi and a person wearing an SP cap (probably Akhilesh Yadav) on the right. In about three hours, the cartoon had a share count of nearly 4,000.
Similar claim circulated by users followed by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s Office
An ABVP member Saurabh Sharma also blamed the Opposition for damaging Train 18.
‘Unknown miscreants’ pelted stones at the train
Train 18, dubbed as the country’s fastest train, was attacked with stones after departing Safdarjung on December 20 at 12:30 pm. The incident was widely reported on mainstream media. According to The Times of India, ‘unknown miscreants’ pelted stones at Train 18, breaking a windowpane.
The Times of India also quoted additional divisional railway manager of Agra, DK Singh who said, “We don’t know how the windowpane broke, a probe has been called.”
The incident was also reported by other news organisations, including Business Standard and Firstpost. The mishap was covered by Times Now as well, according to which, “Following the incident, the Railways appealed to the public to not indulge in acts of vandalism and cause damage to the railway property that has been built for their convenience.”
Manager of Integral Coach Factory (ICF) Sudhanshu Mani tweeted about the act of vandalism – “some vandal threw a stone breaking a glass, hope we nab him.”
Train 18 running at 180 km/h bet Delhi and Agra at this time…Srinivas, the Chief Design Enginner of ICF is in the cab, they touched 181 kmh for record sake 😊…some vandal threw a stone breaking a glass, hope we nab him. pic.twitter.com/YXpqUS6qqC
— ManiSudhanshu (@ManiSudhanshu58) December 20, 2018
A case of destruction of public property by unidentified miscreants was attributed to leaders of Opposition in an attempt to portray them as ‘anti-development’.