Bihar police is probing whether the November 21 Kanpur train derailment that killed 148 people was an act of sabotage with possible ties to Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The Indore-Patna Express went off the tracks near Kanpur Dehat in Pukhrayan on November 21. The Bihar police arrested three persons on Tuesday on charges of involvement in the incident.
“One of three accused has told investigators that they planted a pressure cooker-based improvised explosive device near the railway track in Kanpur which resulted in the derailment. But his confession needed to be verified by independent corroboratory evidence. They claim to have done it for money,” said a central counter-terror official who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The UP anti-terrorist squad (ATS), Lucknow and the National Investigating Agency (NIA) are likely to quiz the three detainees, since there is the suspicion that their handler, identified as Shamshul Hoda of Nepal, may have ISI links.
The official added that it was being suspected that the accused were hired through a chain of handlers sitting in Nepal and Dubai and the Dubai-based handler was connected to those in Pakistan.
East Champaran superintendent of police Jitendra Rana said the trio had been identified as Motilal Paswan of Bakhri village in Adapur PS, Umashankar Patel Gamhariya near Raxaul and Mukesh Rai of Jethkaniyan village in Adapur , all residents of east Champaran. During questioning, Paswan accused the two others of having received money from Hoda of Nepal to plant bombs in public spaces and target the train line between Varanasi and Kanpur, Rana said.
Central counter terror sources said the Nepal police had arrested three people, Brijwasan Giri, Mujahid Ansari and Shambhu on charges of abducting and killing two Indians, from Talaiyya area of Nepal.
After being arrested on murder charges, Giri and others told the Nepal police about their alleged involvement in the Kanpur incident and their associates in Bihar. Acting on the information provided by the Nepal police, the Bihar cops arrested the trio who also accepted about their involvement with the gang.
“The Nepal police had informed about the possible connection of Giri, Ansari and Shambhu with the Kanpur case,” said Rana. It is suspected that the same group was also involved in planting IED near Ghorasahan-Raxaul rail track along the Indo-Nepal border on October 1, 2016 that failed to go off.