Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday said that Maoists or one of their front organisations could be behind last week's derailment of the Howrah-Kurla-Jnaneswari Express that led to the death of 147 people in West Bengal and caused injuries to over 150.
“The needle of suspicion points to the CPI (Maoist) or a front organisation of the CPI (Maoist); however, the identity of the culprit can be established only in the investigation,'' he said, at his monthly press conference here.
His statement runs contrary to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's statement that she saw a political “conspiracy'' behind the incident and suspected that it could have been caused by an explosion on the track.
The Home Minister said the Jnaneswari Express was derailed by removing fish plates and cutting off a portion of the rail track. The derailment led to a collision with a goods train.
“The Railway Ministry has suggested that there should be a CBI inquiry. We have asked for the West Bengal government's views. We have not yet received them,'' he said.
When his attention was drawn to reports of a blast on the track, Mr. Chidambaram said: “I have been told by the West Bengal government and other police officials who visited the site that so far there is no trace of any explosives. The West Bengal government is on record saying panrole clips were removed and the track was cut. That is also prima facie established. Only further investigations will bring out the truth.''
He said May witnessed a large number of violent attacks by the Maoists and the focus remained on Chhattisgarh and West Bengal where as many as 181 people were killed in different incidents.
Asked if the Home Ministry was revisiting its strategy to tackle the growing violence by the Maoists, Mr. Chidambaram said that his Ministry had no stand but there was a policy of the government to deal with the menace. He said that during May work plans for nine naxal-affected States amounting to a total of Rs. 331.12 crore were approved.
On further tightening the security at airports and other vital installations, he said that nearly 1,100 additional posts of the Central Industrial Security Force have been created; 879 would be for the IGI airport in the capital.