Ill-prepared railways failed to protect passengers: CPI-M

New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Friday accused the Indian Railways of violating safety measures and failing to protect the lives of passengers in the West Bengal train derailment that killed at least 65 people.

‘This terrible tragedy has been compounded by the irresponsible absence of due diligence on the part of the railway authorities,’ a CPI-M statement said, condemning the ‘dastardly act by Maoists who have once again demonstrated their utter contempt for human lives’.

‘In violation of their own declared policy to ensure specific safety measures in Maoist affected areas, in this case the pilot train which should have preceded the passenger train to check the safety of the track was not done. This perhaps could have averted this tragedy and saved the lives of passengers,’ the statement said.

The CPI-M said the persistent denial of the existence of Maoist activities in West Bengal by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee ‘may have led to the lack of preparedness of the authorities’.

It urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to personally intervene to ensure that the railways, in coordination with security agencies, fulfil their responsibility by stepping up precautionary safety measures to protect passengers and railway property in all Maoist affected areas.

The engine and 13 bogies of a Howrah-Mumbai passenger train derailed and were hit by a goods train near Jhargram in West Midnapore district. At least 65 people were killed and more than 200 injured in the accident which has been blamed on Maoist guerrillas.