M A I N   N E W S

Rail mishap takes political hues
n Snub to Mamata as WB govt says no to CBI probe
n Contrary to TMC stand, PC hints at Maoists’ hand
Tribune News Service & Agencies

New Delhi, May 31
The West Bengal government today turned down the demand by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee for a CBI probe into the Gyaneshwari Express mishap in West Midnapore district of the state that claimed 148 lives three days ago. Also, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today indicated that the Cabinet Committee on Security was likely to review the strategy to deal with Naxalites.

Addressing mediapersons while presenting the Home Ministry’s report card for the month of May, Chidambaram said: “The needle of suspicion (for the train mishap) points towards the CPI-Maoists or its front organisation. But the identity of the culprits can only be established after the investigation is over.” Prima facie, said the Home Minister, no explosive had been found from the accident spot and that it appeared the derailment occurred due to the removal of a track.

Notably, the Mumbai-bound Howrah-Gyaneshwari Express had derailed in the Maoist stronghold of West Midnapore district on Friday.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had alleged that her political rivals — CPM — were behind the accident, which occurred ahead of the civic body polls in West Bengal. The Trinamool Congress chief had demanded a CBI probe into the "political conspiracy" and gave a “clean chit” from her side to the Maoists. The divergent stance of the Home Minister and Mamata Banerjee, it appears, could test the ties between the Congress and the Trinamool.

For his part, Chidambaram today clarified that the Railway Ministry had sought a CBI probe and that the Home Ministry was awaiting a response from the state government. However, the West Bengal government by the evening made it clear that “there was no need for a CBI probe”.

The Centre cannot order a CBI inquiry into any incident without the state government’s request, or without a court order. Replying to queries on growing Naxal attacks, Chidambaram said the Cabinet Committee on Security was likely to review the strategy to deal with Naxalites. As many as 172 civilians and 29 security personnel were killed by Naxals in May, which included the recent derailing of the passenger train in West Midnapore.

Asked whether he had allowed Swami Agnivesh to act as a mediator for talks between the Centre and the Naxals, he said he had written a letter to the social activist, which spells the broad parameters for the government to hold talks with the Maoists.

And to a question whether the government, seeing the heightened violence from Naxal side, was contemplating the use of air power, Chidambaram said he had no comments to offer on the issue.

On whether the Home Ministry’s stand on Naxals will be diluted following the inclusion of some human rights activists in the newly-constituted National Advisory Council, he said: “There is no stand of the Home Ministry. There is a policy of the Centre.”





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