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Had info on Gyaneswari accident but took no action, now officials clam up

india Updated: Apr 01, 2011 18:05 IST
Soumen Datta

Police intercepted telephone conversations of members of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), a front of the Maoists, on May 27 evening and got information about their sinister plans to derail a train, but did not act on the information.

A few hours later, the Mumbai-bound 2102 UP Gyaneswari Express, whichstarted from Howrah station, derailed and a goods train coming from the opposite direction ploughed through three bogies, killing 148 people.

HT has accessed the transcripts of the telephone conversations. No official word is forthcoming on why the police did not act on the information to prevent the worst train sabotage in the country’s history.

On May 14, 2010, in an order marked as ‘Secret’ to M/S Vodafone Essar South Ltd & M/S Vodafone Telecom East, state home secretary Samar Ghosh (now chief secretary) said: “In the interest of public safety and the security of the state, it is directed that any calls or SMSes (interception facility at home and visiting network/distance location) transmitted to or from mobile numbers enlisted under the heading ‘Telephone Nos to be intercepted’ relating to clandestine contact/ movement/ activity etc, shall be intercepted for recording/listening.”

On Saturday, Ghosh said he could not remember the order.

However, documents, including the transcript of telephone conversations among the members of PCAPA show that the mobile phones of the mastermind of the saboteurs, Manoj Mahato, alias Bapi, along with Asit Mahato, Samir Kumar Mahato were under surveillance from May 14, 2010.

The transcript reveals that the conspiracy was clear to the police by 8 pm on May 27.

The documents indicate a Maoist hand behind the sabotage but police inaction may rake up a political storm.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had alleged the derailment was a political conspiracy. Leader of opposition in assembly Partha Chatterjee said, “It will not be wise to comment before going through your report. I will make a statement the day you publish it.”

A trip to the control room of the special operations group in Midnapore showed that interceptions were being recorded and heard live by personnel. It reinforces the impression that the real-time information on May 27 last year could not have escaped the notice of the security machinery.