The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the Jnaneswari Express sabotage on Tuesday announced a cash reward of Rs 5.5 lakh for providing information leading to the arrest of eight accused.
The Mumbai-bound Jnaneswari Express derailed after suspected sabotage by Maoists and was then hit by a freight train near Jhargram in West Midnapore district May 28, killing 148 people.
CBI Additional Director General (Media and Communication) Harsh Bhal said: "A reward of Rs.5.5 lakh has been announced for (arrest of) eight accused in the Jnaneswari Express tragedy, who are absconding."
The eight absconding people include Shashadhar Mahato, Tapan Mahato, Jayanta Bhakta, Joydeb Mahato, Sanjoy Mahato, Laxmikant Roy, Bachan Manna, and Altab Hossein.
The investigation agency has announced a reward of Rs 2 lakh for information leading to arrest of Shashadhar Mahato and Rs 50,000 each for the arrest of seven others, the spokesperson said.
A senior police officer of West Midnapore district said: "Shashadhar was an area commander of the Communist Party of India-Maoists (CPI-Maoists) active in Lalgarh belt since long. He is wanted in many cases including murder, sedition, loot and damaging of government properties."
He is very close to top rebel leaders in Bengal. The other seven accused are members of the pro-Maoists tribal group Peoples' Committee Against Police Atrocities, said the police officer.
The CBI spokesperson said posters containing details of the accused and urging people to provide information leading to their arrest will be circulated in and around the Maoist-affected areas of West Bengal soon.
The CBI has so far arrested nine accused involved in the case. Earlier, it announced a reward of Rs 3 lakh for the arrest of three prime accused - Bapi Mahato, Umakanta Mahato and Asit Mahato. Umakanta and Asit are still absconding.
The CBI took over the investigation from the state police June 10.
It constituted a joint investigation team comprising three officers of the CBI, three officers of police, two officers of the Railways Protection Force, one officer of the railway board and two forensic experts.