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Updated: June 1, 2010 01:51 IST

West Bengal rules out CBI probe into train derailment

Raktima Bose
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Railway staff are involved in track restoration work at Jnaneswari Express mishap site in West Midnapore on Saturday. The State govt. has ruled out a CBI probe into the incident. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury
Railway staff are involved in track restoration work at Jnaneswari Express mishap site in West Midnapore on Saturday. The State govt. has ruled out a CBI probe into the incident. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

The West Bengal government on Monday ruled out a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the Jnaneswari Express derailment at Sardiha, rejecting Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's demand.

“The State's Criminal Investigation Department's (CID) probe has progressed a great deal and the State government does not feel that a parallel inquiry is necessary,” State's Home Secretary Samar Ghosh told reporters at the Secretariat here.

Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh also said the CID was “sufficiently competent” to handle the investigation.

Earlier in the day, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram had said at a press conference in New Delhi that his Ministry was awaiting the State's consensus for initiating a CBI probe into the accident that claimed 150 lives.

Asked why a CID inquiry was ordered, Mr. Ghosh said that even though the Commissioner of Railway Safety generally investigated railway accidents, a CID probe was initiated in this case since it involved sabotage. He, however, refused to give a timeframe for completion of the probe.

Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said 95 bodies recovered from the accident site have been identified while samples of the remaining 55 bodies have been sent for DNA test.

Phone intercepts

Meanwhile, mobile phone intercepts of several Maoist squad members appeared to be the only evidence that the State police have currently to prove that the left-wing extremists were involved, along with members of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC).

According to police sources, the CID has learnt from the intercepts that the Maoists had held a meeting at Murakati village near the site and had asked the local unit of the PSBJC to mobilise people in the neighbouring villages for sabotaging the railway track.

The CID, however, feels that the rebels had primarily targeted the goods train and a communication gap between the coordinating teams might have led to the derailment of the Jnaneswari Express and the subsequent tragedy.

Two under scanner

“It has been gathered from the phone intercepts that PSBJC spokesperson Asit Mahato had instructed the other members to deny their role in the incident after learning about the enormity of the accident. Two local PSBJC leaders, Bapi Mahato and Umakanta Mahato, are under the scanner for their active role in this incident,” a senior police official said.

Asit Mahato, however, refuted the charge and alleged that the State police are “trying to cover up the sabotage by cadres of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) by maligning the PSBJC.”

“We never supported the killing of people. Security personnel and CPI(M) cadres have been unleashing terror in the villages near Sardiha since last Thursday. We are convinced that the sabotage was the handiwork of the CPI(M) cadres. The so-called PSBJC leaflets were also being planted by the police,” he said.

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