Two Maoist hit squad members and local members of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) were responsible for the derailment of the Gyaneshwari Express in West Midnapore district on Friday, investigating officials claimed on Saturday, even as the toll mounted to 124 and railway minister Mamata Banerjee spun a conspiracy theory targeting the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Banerjee demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged conspiracy and the Centre obliged. State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials, who refused to be identified, told HT preliminary investigations showed that eight PCAPA members, who worked as contract labourers with the Railways, loosened the fishplates and cut tracks, which led to the crash.
“We are sure local PCAPA activists and Maoist hit squad members were involved,” Bengal DGP Bhupinder Singh said. The operation was planned at the local level as a reprisal against recent police raids and the top Maoist leadership probably didn’t know about it, police sources said, indicating that the latter could be losing control over their cadres.
Banerjee and a section of intellectuals supporting the Trinamool Congress, however, pointed fingers at the ruling party in the state. Addressing a press conference, the Railway Minister said: “It needs to be probed whether this accident was planned to malign my image and that of my ministry just two days before the civic polls in the state.”
Banerjee added: “Some people have launched a disinformation campaign and planned rallies in Kolkata. I wonder how they could prepare for it so fast.” On Friday, PCAPA and CPI(Maoist) had alleged that the CPI (M) might have plotted the accident. Banerjee demanded that this be probed.
Police said a team of about 20-25 were involved in the operation. “A white pick-up van was used to drop them at Indraboni village, 7 km from the accident spot,” an officer said. “We have identified the group that committed the crime. Raids have begun last night. We’ll nab them soon,” said Zulfikar Hasan, IG (western range).
(Inputs by Snigdhendu Bhattacharya)
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