Mamata expresses suspicion about cause

The railway minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, raised suspicions about the cause of the second major train accident in West Bengal in two months on Monday while one of her top officials did not rule out sabotage.

"I am suspicious about the cause of the accident," Ms Banerjee told reporters before proceeding to the site of the mishap after a speeding Sealdah-bound Uttarbanga Express rammed into the rear of the Ranchi-bound Vananchal Express at Sainthia station in Birbhum district, about 190 km from Kolkata.

"We have some doubt in our mind. Whatever happened is not casual thing. We will take all strong step against those who are behind this," she said, adding an inquiry will reveal everything.

Ms Mamata made these remarks in Kolkata when asked about the circumstances that could have led to the mishap which has left 60 persons dead.

She also said the railways will investigate why the Uttarbanga Express was travelling 25 minutes before time.

"How did the train arrive 25 minutes before time is under the scanner," she said, suggesting the train may be overspeeding.

The Railways also did not rule out the possibility of sabotage.

"Nothing can be ruled out. Ho sakta hai hamara equipment se chherchhar hui ho. Ye sab janch ke bad pata chalega (It may be possible that our equipment might have been tampered with. It will be known only after inquiry)," Eastern Railways General Manager, Mr V.N. Tripathy, told PTI at the site of the accident in Sainthia.

To another question, he said the Uttarbanga Express was running at a much higher speed than it was supposed to while entering the Sainthia station.

"The train was overspeeding but there is no explanation why the train was overspeeding," Tripathy said.

"What caused the accident is a mystery to us. The driver of the Uttarbanga Express was a very good driver. He had stopped the train properly at previous station. We are puzzled," he said.

The railway board chairman, Mr Vivek Sahay, said the driver had stopped just five kms before the accident site. So how he could have speeded up in five kms. "The driver cannot commit a mistake like this," he said.

"We do not know whether the signal was given. Even if the signal was given, the train has to stop at Sainthia," Mr Sahay said.

Today's accident comes within two months of the Jnaneshwari train disaster on May 28 near Jhargram in West Midnapore district that left 148 dead. The Railway Minister had alleged a 'political conspiracy' behind it. The CBI is currently probing the Jnaneswari mishap.

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