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Sabotage derailed Rajdhani: probe

NEW DELHI OCT. 3. A statutory inquiry into the derailment of the Howrah-Delhi Rajdhani Express that killed 116 persons last month near Gaya in Bihar has said in its preliminary report that the accident occurred due to "sabotage".

The "sabotage" theory had been cited by the Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar, as well as the Chairman of the Railway Board, I.I.M.S. Rana, as some fish-plates were reportedly found lying outside the track. The remarks sparked a controversy and brought the Railway Minister in conflict with the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, Laloo Prasad Yadav, who accused the Railways of negligence in maintaining the track and the bridge over the Dhawa rivulet where the accident occurred.

The probe into the accident was conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Eastern Circle, Mahesh Chand, and in his "provisional findings", attributed the cause of the accident to "sabotage". An official press release by the Railways said the findings were under the consideration of the Government.

As many as 12 bogies of the Rajdhani Express derailed on the night of September 9 between the Rafiganj and Deo road stations on the Gaya-Mughalsarai Grand Chord double line on the railway bridge over the Dhawa river.

Later, talking to presspersons, Mr. Kumar said that after visiting the site of the accident he had merely stated that there appeared to be a possibility of "sabotage".

The Railways would go by the report of the Commissioner of Railway Safety and get several aspects of the report examined. The final report would take three to four months for completion. He had not yet received the preliminary report as it was submitted to the Safety Directorate and the Commissioner himself had issued the press release about the "provisional findings". On its part, Mr. Kumar said, the Railway Ministry had set up a high-level committee, including the Railway Board Member (Traffic), the Member (Mechanical) and the Director-General (Health Services), to conduct a thorough review of disaster management. The committee would submit its report within two months and look at ways to make relief, rescue and post-accident management operations quicker.

Negligence: Laloo

RANCHI OCT. 3. The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader, Laloo Prasad Yadav, today rejected the conclusion by railway authorities that sabotage had caused the derailment of the Rajdhani Express in Bihar last month and charged that "negligence" by the Railways was responsible.

"We outrightly reject this report. We still stand by our statement that negligence was responsible,'' Mr. Yadav told `Aaj Tak'. — PTI

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