New Delhi: Union home minister P. Chidambaram on Monday blamed Maoist insurgents for causing the train derailment that killed 147 people in West Bengal on 28 May, contradicting railway minister Mamata Banerjee, who had suggested that the state’s ruling communists may have been behind the incident.
Banerjee had also said that a “blast” had caused the accident that befell the Howrah-Kurla Jnaneshwari Express, but Chidambaram said the state government and the police had told him there was no trace of explosives on the track.
Security concern: Home minister P. Chidambaram. PTI
“The train was derailed by the removal of fish plates and the cutting off of a portion of the rail track. The derailment led to a collision with a goods train,” Chidambaram said. “The needle of suspicion points to the CPI-Maoist (Communist Party of India-Maoist) or a front organization of the CPI-Maoist. However, the identity of the culprit can be established only in the investigations.”
Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress is the main opposition party in West Bengal, had called the accident a political conspiracy. “I don’t know who has done the heinous crime. But whoever has done it, it’s a political conspiracy. I have requested the Union home ministry to conduct a probe,” she had said.
The railway minister had also said she had heard suspected Maoists say the incident was perpetrated by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which leads the ruling Left Front alliance in the state. West Bengal is scheduled to elect a new government next year.
Maoist violence has surged in the past two months, and scores of civilians and security personnel have been killed.
Asked if the Central Bureau of Investigation will carry out a probe, as suggested by Banerjee, Chidambaram said he was yet to receive the West Bengal government’s opinion on the issue. The state government later said it was not in favour of a federal probe.
The home minister, when asked if he would seek the use of the Indian Air Force against the Maoists, said: “I am told that a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is scheduled shortly” to discuss the subject.
The CCS will meet towards the end of this week or early next week, said a senior home ministry official on condition of anonymity.