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Maoists target train, 76 dead
Gyaneswari Express derails after blast on track in WB
Subhrangshu Gupta/PTI

Gelatine sticks found

Jhargram (WB): Explosives were found on the tracks where 13 coaches of the Maharashtra-bound express train derailed in West Midnapore district, strengthening suspicion of the Maoists involvement in the incident. “Gelatine sticks and TNT explosives were found on the tracks,” South Eastern Railway General Manager AP Mishra said. — PTI

Fish plates removed

Kolkata: Fish plates were found removed at the spot where the Mumbai-bound Gyaneswari Express derailed early Friday morning. Inspector General of Police (Law and Order), Surojit Karpurokayastha, said as per preliminary investigation fish plates were found removed at the derailment site. — PTI

Ex-gratia announced

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced an ex gratia assistance of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the seriously injured in the derailment of the Gyaneshwari Express near Sardiya in West Bengal. Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has also condoled

the death of those killed and expressed sympathy for the injured. — TNS

Kolkata,Jhargram (WB), May 28
In the worst-ever train accident caused by Maoists, at least 76 passengers were killed and over 200 injured at the wee hours last night in the Maoists-infested west Midnapore district near Kharagpur. The death toll may go up further since some passengers were still trapped inside the fallen bogies and the condition of several injured passengers in the hospitals was stated to be critical, the state home secretary Samar Ghosh told media persons at Writers’ Buildings. The accident occurred following the derailment of 13 passengers-packed bogies of the Mumbai-bound Lokmanya-Gyanashari superfast train, while it was running between Sardia and Khemaguri around 1-20 am. After the derailment, three bogies jumped over to the adjacent track when a goods train coming from the opposite direction hit and smashed them, with all the passengers trapped inside.

After the accident, one fishplate was found to be removed from the track where a 1-5 foot long stretch was cut off. Several pan-drop slips, fastening the line with the slipper were also missing. Two Maoists posters, carrying the identity of the PCPA ( People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities) were discovered near the accident site.

Mangled heaps of bogies lying off the tracks, passengers in bandages and plasters and a row of hearse vans lined up - the scene at the site of the derailment of the Mumbai-bound Gyaneshwari Express here virtually resembled a war zone. Belongings of passengers, including suitcases, bags and shoes were strewn around as ladders and cranes were being deployed to take out the survivors and clear the tracks at Guptamoni, about 135 km from Howrah where the derailment took place. Many passengers were seen in bandages or plasters, sitting huddled with whatever was left of their belongings, waiting to be evacuated, while some others were seen weeping inconsolably as bodies were brought out of the crushed bogies.

Rescue workers were trying to enter the overturned bogies using gas-cutters and those who managed to come out on their own squatted along the tracks nursing their wounds. CRPF and army personnel assisted by a sniffer dog and donned in masks and helmets used gas cutters to carry out the rescue operations.

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee, who arrived at the spot around 6 in the morning and supervised the rescue operations, alleged the accident had been pre-planned and it was definitely an act of sabotage. However, she ruled out the possibility of suspending the train services through the Maoists-dominated areas which would cut off the country’s lifelines. She hinted that the train services in some sensitive areas might be reduced and re-scheduled as safety measures.

The accident occurred on the first day of the Maoists’ week-long Black-day protest against the Green Hunt operation and the police atrocities in the Lalghar-Jangalmahal-Jhargram areas. Immediately after the accident, the Army helicopters and the railways disaster-management group were pressed into the rescue operations. The police and the para-military personnel also were engaged. Many of the injured passengers had been airlifted from the accident site to the nearby hospitals at Kharagpur, Jhargram, Midnapore and Jamshedpur. Some injured persons were also rushed to Kolkata for undergoing urgent neurological surgery. Many injured passengers complained about the delay in the rescue operation and timely medical assistance. Many hapless passengers, including women and children, had to spend the night in the open fields waiting anxiously for relief.

The Railway Minister said the train driver heard the sound of an explosion soon before the derailment, which would conduct an inquiry but she would also request the Home Minister P Chidambaram to order a separate inquiry.

She announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh for the families of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh for the injured. An eligible candidate in the bereaved family would be given a job. Prime minister Manmohan Singh phoned Banerjee at the accident site and conveyed his concern and shock. He also sent his condolences to the bereaved families through the railway minister. An ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh to the bereaved family was declared on his behalf.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today hurriedly finished his scheduled press conference at 12 noon at the Calcutta Press Club and left for Kharagpur. Several ministers with medical teams had already reached the accident site




Shock and grief over attack
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 28
The political class was shocked and grieved over the Maoist sabotage resulting in the derailment of a passenger train in Jhargam, West Bengal, causing the death of 65 persons and injuries to another 200 today. While the CPM has demanded a thorough enquiry into “this horrendous incident,” the BJP has asked the government to stop hair splitting and act urgently against the Maoists.

BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The incident once again highlights the enormity of the problem and the need for an appropriate and perceptive response.” Prasad regretted that, “We were caught quibbling over limited or ‘unlimited mandate’ or state versus Centre’s responsibility, or law and order debate. It is indeed painful that in spite of killing of 65 passengers, the Home Minister, the Finance Minister, the Railway Minister and the West Bengal chief minister are still speaking in different voices. It is now incumbent upon the Prime Minister to clearly articulate the Government stand,” he added.

He said “BJP demands firm and urgent action against Naxals, after reports of links between the Maoists and LeT.”

The CPM Politbureau, meanwhile, demanded that “The Prime Minister should personally intervene to ensure that the railways, in coordination with security agencies fulfill their responsibility by stepping up precautionary safety measures to protect passengers and railway property in all Maoists affected areas.”

Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari has expressed his shock and grief over the loss of life. “I join all citizens in sending my condolences to the members of the bereaved families”.





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