Tracks cleared, wreaks remain

Written by Shishir Gupta | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 1 2010, 02:10am hrs
Bengal okays CBI probe

West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has verbally conveyed to the Centre his approval for a CBI inquiry into the Jnaneswari Express carnage after no explosives were discovered at the site of the mishap. Investigations are needed to ascertain how a nearly foot-long chunk of the rail track was cut by suspected Maoists in a matter of 27 minutes.

Government sources said while police and security agencies have been asked to trace the vital missing rail track, the Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO) of Indian Railways has been handed over a portion of the remaining rail track to find out how it was cut by suspected Maoists.

While railway minister Mamata Banerjee has called the entire incident a political conspiracy before the state civic polls, the Centre is also intrigued by intercepts received from the Maoist communication network.

These indicate that Maoist leaders initially wanted to take responsibility for the attack after they heard of a goods train being targeted at Sardiha.

However, they decided to deny any hand after they heard that the attack was on the Jnaneswari Express and scores of innocents lives had been lost.

Contrary to reports, the Central agencies have not found evidence of any explosives or gas cutters and are trying to determine how a portion made of toughened steel was removed in just 27 minutesthe time between passage of the last train (12.43 am) on the track and the collision between the derailed Jnaneswari Express (1.10 am) and the goods train. According to top government officials, a total of five trains passed on that track an hour before the incident. One possibility being explored is the use of a chemical to systematically corrode the track.

The home ministry is expected to formally write to the state government on Monday for the inquiry. The department of personnel and training will be asked to issue the notification after a formal approval has been obtained.