In the second consequential railway accident in less than a month, >four passengers lost their lives and several were injured when a dozen bogies of the Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express derailed near Chapra in Bihar during the early hours of Wednesday.
Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar felt prima facie the Maoists were involved while Home Minister Rajnath Singh was circumspect but inclined towards a similar view.
While Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, his deputy Manoj Sinha and senior Board officials immediately left for the accident site, President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths. The Prime Minister’s Office said Mr. Modi was in touch with the Railway Minister who was briefing him about the ongoing relief work.
``Even the Prime Minister agrees it is too early to blame the Naxals [Maoists]. Let us wait for further report on the incident,’’ said Mr. Singh who also mentioned another derailment of a goods train about 60 km away from where Rajdhani Express derailed. This accident formed the basis of the Railway Board Chairman’s apprehension of Maoist involvement.
``There was a blast on the track, which could have caused the derailment,’’ he added.
The Maoists had given a bandh call to protest against harassment of "innocent people" in the area by security forces. Less than a month back, >Gorakhdham Express had collided into a stationary goods train in Uttar Pradesh killing 25 and injuring over 100.
Of the 12 coaches that derailed, five went off the tracks immediately leading to casualties and another seven derailed later, said Mr. Kumar.
The coaches were of the latest LHB make and officials said its anti-telescoping features (coaches climbing on one another) and other safety aspects minimised casualties.
Mr. Gowda has announced ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakhs for the family of the dead, Rs. 1 lakhs for the grievously injured and Rs. 20,000 for those with simple injuries.