West Bengal rules out CBI probe into train tragedy

Kolkata, May 31 (IANS) Rejecting Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe, the West Bengal government Monday said there was no need for an investigation by the central agency into the train tragedy for which the Maoists are being suspected for sabotage.

State Home secretary Samar Ghosh said the union home ministry had sent a missive seeking the state government’s views on constituting a CBI inquiry into Friday’s train accident in Jhargram in which around 150 people were killed.

‘Today (Monday) we have replied that since the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is seized with the probe, and the inquiry has progressed substantially, there is no need for a CBI probe,’ Ghosh told mediapersons at the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings.

With sabotage being held as the cause of derailment, Ghosh said the CID was entrusted with the job as it involved a crime. ‘Had it been an ordinary accident, a probe by the Commissioner of Railway Safety would have been enough.’

Soon after the accident, Banerjee, who is chief of the state’s principal opposition Trinamool Congress, had demanded a CBI inquiry.

The state government, on the other hand, has alleged that Maoist guerrillas were involved in the sabotage.

Earlier, union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said in New Delhi that his ministry was awaiting a response from the state government over the railway ministry seeking a CBI probe.

‘The ministry of railways has suggested a CBI inquiry. We have asked the West Bengal government’s views. We have not received their views,’ Chidambaram said.

The Mumbai-bound Gyaneshwari Express went off the track in Jhargram after suspected Maoists removed a piece of the track at 1.30 a.m. Friday. Five coaches fell on a parallel track. A speeding goods train coming from the opposite direction rammed into the five coaches, crushing some of them.

Police found two posters put out by the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities at the accident site, claiming responsibility for the sabotage.

It was the third worst train accident this year blamed on Maoist guerrillas and the worst bout of killings blamed on the rebels since they massacred 76 security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada April 6.