Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee today alleged there was a "political conspiracy" behind the Jnaneswari Express derailment without blaming Maoists for the disaster and demanded a CBI probe, as the toll climbed to 114.
As Banerjee and arch rival CPI-M indulged in a blame game, the train's driver B K Das filed a FIR with the Government Railway Police(GRP) unit in Jhargram in which he referred to an explosion on the track when the Howrah-Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Gyaneshwari Super Deluxe Express derailed in West Midnapore district, about 150 kms from Kolkata at around 1:30 am.
The FIR was filed against "unidentified miscreants" under sections 150 (maliciously wrecking or attempting to wreck a train) and 151 (damage to or destruction of certain railway properties)of the Railway Act but made no mention of Maoists.
Additional Director General Government Railway Police (GRP) Dilip Mitra said the FIR appeared to be not adequate.GRP comes under the jurisdiction of States.
"It is the duty of the West Bengal administration to find out who is responsible," Banerjee told reporters in Kolkata in remarks suggesting that Maoists, who have been blamed for the disaster in their heartland, cannot be held responsible until investigations are completed.
"From the Railway we have requested Union Home Ministry for a CBI investigation into the incident since it was in jangalmahal where joint operation is on. We have already sent a letter and the Centre has agreed to order it," she said. Banerjee said she did not know who were behind it, but "whoever did it, it was a political conspiracy.
The accident has happened two days before the (civic) election. One may be politically against us, but I feel bad that the way the incident was engineered to fulfil one's political interest. "Those who have done this sabotage and played with so many lives should not be pardoned," she said. CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury rejected as unfortunate and absurd Mamata's claims pointing fingers at the Left party. The claim was being done with tomorrow's civic elections in mind, Yechury said, adding Banerjee is trying to cover up her "serious lapses."
Apparently referring to the police report that fish plates were removed, Banerjee said, "I do not know from where this story has come. The railway lines there were long-welded railway lines which have no fish plates. She also said three express trains had passed through the derailment spot before the diaster at around 1.30 am yesterday.
With the recovery of more bodies from the mangled coaches today, the death toll rose to 114, South Eastern Railway sources said. Several bodies were yet to be identified.
The number of injured has been put at 250 by officials. As rescue teams still tried to cut their way into sections of the mangled wreckage, the sources said the toll would rise 'substantially' as more bodies could be there in the S-5 compartment.
Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) S Karpurakayastha told PTI in Jhargram that the Maoist link in the derailment was clear, but declined to say if more evidence pointing to it has been found. Asked about whether there had been a blast prior to the derailment, he said the forensic report was awaited.