Railways, police chief spar over cause of derailment

Kolkata, May 29 (IANS) Contesting the West Bengal administration’s claim that fishplates were found removed at the site of the Gyaneshwari Express disaster, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday claimed the tracks there did not need fishplates.

‘In that area we have a long-welded rail line. So there are no fishplates there,’ Banerjee told media persons at her residence here.

Senior state government officials, as also Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh, Friday claimed that fishplates were found removed for over 50 m at the site near Jhargram in West Midnapore district.

Banerjee has claimed that the Mumbai-bound Gyaneshwari Express was derailed following a bomb blast. The train driver B.K.Das also filed a police complaint claiming he had heard a ‘blasting sound’, saw smoke coming from underneath the engine and felt a jerk which prompted him to apply emergency brake.

However, Bhupinder Singh said there were no visible signs of a blast at the spot between Sardiha and Khemasuli railway stations of South Eastern Railway.

‘We did not find visible signs of big explosions at the site. Our forensic team has seized some samples. From that they can give their view on whether there was any explosion.

‘But even if an explosion did occur, it must have been of minor nature. That is not sufficient for derailment,’ he said.

On the driver claiming to have heard a blasting sound, he said: ‘Well, it can be the sound of a cracker also.’

According to the police chief, about 1.5 feet of the railway track at the spot was found cut and the pandrol clips (used to fix the rail to the sleeper) were open for over 50 metres.