Parties blame it on Maoists, seek increased precautionary steps

Political parties across the spectrum in one voice expressed their shock at the tragedy in Jhargram, West Bengal, where possibly sabotage resulted in a train accident that took 79 lives and injured 150 more.

Several political parties, the Left and the Bharatiya Janata Party included, blamed the Maoists for the horrendous accident and said they had once again demonstrated their utter contempt for human lives. They demanded that safety and precautionary measures be stepped up in all Naxal-affected areas.

Ex gratia of Rs. 2 lakh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed grief and shock while he announced an ex gratia assistance of Rs.2 lakh to the kin of each of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to each of the injured. He also asked the Railways Ministry and other agencies to provide assistance to the bereaved families and ensure that the injured got speedy medical help.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi expressed her deep anguish and sorrow at the tragic loss of innocent lives and offered her condolences to the bereaved families. Congress media in-charge Janardhan Dwivedi said the Congress shared their sorrow. He added Naxalism was a big threat which “we should fight together” and “we should look beyond narrow concerns.”

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded that the government give an appropriate and prompt response to the Naxals behind this ghastly incident. “It is time to end the debate on limited or expanded mandate. It is time to come out with a cohesive policy,” Mr. Prasad said while lamenting that on a day when 79 passengers had died, the Railways Minister, the Home Minister and the Finance Minister were all speaking in different voices. There was no clarity on the cause of the accident although sabotage by Maoists was suspected.

The area through which the train passed was sensitive. Moreover, the Maoists had declared a “black week.” Hence authorities should have taken extra precaution.

The BJP also wanted to know what the human rights activists who were almost justifying Naxalism had to say. Why were they silent today, Mr. Prasad asked.

Veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said it was time to end the quarrel over whether it was the Centre's responsibility or the States'. The Centre and the States must together formulate an appropriate response to what was certainly a grave internal security threat. “One must remember the aim of Naxals is to uproot the elected government and our democratic system. They have declared war on the Indian state. We need to take immediate steps and to frame a policy that would have full political support, the government could call a meeting of leaders from across the political spectrum,” he said.

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