Another person was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) early on Tuesday in connection with the Jnaneswari Express derailment case, taking the total number of arrests to three.
According to CBI sources, Hiralal Mahato is an active supporter of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee and was present at the site on May 27 night when saboteurs tampered with the rail track.
Moreover, the CBI requested the court at Jhargram to apply Sections 16 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against Mr. Mahato. This is the first time the law is being used for an accused in connection with the train accident case.
“He is a resident of Rasua village in Paschim Medinipur district. The village is near Sardiha, where the accident took place. We have sufficient evidence about his involvement in the sabotage plan and his name also came up while interrogating the other two arrested men. He has been remanded in CBI custody till June 24 by the Jhargram court,” a CBI spokesperson told The Hindu from New Delhi over telephone.
He added that the CBI and the district police carried out the arrest in “close cooperation” under the command of the Inspector-General of police (Western Range), Zulfikar Hasan.
Earlier, Khagen Mahato and Samir Mahato were arrested by the State CID and later handed over to the CBI. Defence counsel, however, claimed that Hiralal was underage and a student of Class IX at the Manikpara High School.
“Hiralal was picked up by the police on June 7 and was kept at the Kharagpur police station all this while. We will submit evidence of his age to the court and request for his bail,” counsel said.
Meanwhile, the bullet-riddled bodies of two brothers – Sambhu Singh and Sunil Singh – were found from the Chakadoba area of Belpahari region in the district on Tuesday.
Police sources said that though the brothers were earlier supporters of the Jharkhand Party (Aditya), they joined the PSBJC lately; internal squabble in the outfit was primarily suspected to have led to the killings.
The PSBJC leadership, however, claimed that they had been killed by the Gana Pratirodh Committee, which was set up to resist Maoist activities in the region and enjoys tacit support of the CPI (M).