Indian train tragedy toll attains 150 as police collect details of rebel sabotage

14:15, May 30, 2010      

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The death toll of Friday's train tragedy in eastern India's West Bengal attained 150 Sunday morning while police are near definite conclusion that a splinter group of the extreme left-wing Naxal rebels were responsible for causing the disaster.

The People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), a group backed by Naxal guerrillas, is "definitely" behind the sabotage caused at the tracks leading to derailment of the Howrah- Kurla Lomanya Tilak Gyaneshwari Super Deluxe Express train here, said West Bengal police.

The West Bengal police sources claimed that the attack was not planned by Naxal top leadership and instead the PCPA local leaders planned it on their own.

"There have been divisions within party ranks (among Naxals) recently," they said.

Naxals have already denied their hand in the train attack. A Naxal spokesperson here even said that the rebels would call a public court and punish the guilty.

"PCPA leaders Umakanto Mahato and Bapi Mahato planned and executed the derailment of the Gyaneshwari Express between Khemasoli and Sardiya stations near Jhargram," sources in the West Bengal police revealed.

With the help of some disgruntled cadres of the PCPA, Umakanto Mahato and Bapi Mahato abducted a railway lineman Dayaram Mahato posted at Sardiha station, the sources added on condition of anonymity.

"Umakanto Mahato and Bapi Mahato abducted Dayaram Mahato from his house at about 21:30 p.m. on Thursday night after threatening him and his family. Leaders of PCPA warned Mahato that his entire family would be killed if he did not accompany them," said the sources.

The PCPA leaders then forced Mahato to open pandrol clips, which fixes the track to the sleepers, at around 01:00 a.m. on Friday as they knew that Gyaneshwari Express would be passing the area in about 15-20 minutes.

Umakanto Mahato along with a few PCPA members remained at the site with the lineman while Bapi Mahato went to Sardiha station and held a goods train until they got "go ahead" signal from their accomplice from the accident site.

The goods train ploughed into some bogies of the derailed Gyaneshwari Express which led to the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Indian Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee attacked her rivals in the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM)-led state government for the accident.

She ruled out any sabotage by Naxals and blamed it on " political conspirators."

"It is surprising how political conspiracy is being played out on the eve of municipal elections in West Bengal and everyone is blaming me for the derailment," the Railway Minister said.

She, however, refused to name any particular group responsible for the derailment of the train.

In the meantime, rescue work was halted at the site during the night because of rain, even as rescuers feared more bodies might remain under the S-6 coach which was one of the worst hit coaches.

Some 200 injured people are undergoing treatment in different hospitals in various districts of West Bengal.

Volunteers of National Cadet Corps, personnel of the railway, army, Central Reserve Police Force and Combat Battalion for Resolute Action, along with a team of doctors and paramedics, are still active at the site located some 150 km from state capital Kolkata.

The railway rescue team is also trying hard to restore the overhead traction and tracks damaged in about a two-kilometer stretch.

Source: Xinhua


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