Mamata hints at sabotage

Four people were killed yesterday when 11 coaches of the Dehradun-bound Doon Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Jaunpur district, the railway ministry said even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hinted at sabotage.

Off track: Rescue personnel and bystanders gather around the wreckage of the Doon Express at Jaunpur. Because of the accident, more than a dozen trains plying on the route had been halted at various stations. Pic/AFP

The accident took place around 1.15 pm near Mahrawa station. A Northern Railway statement issued in New Delhi in the evening said 11 of the train’s 18 coaches got derailed. The injured have been rushed to medical facilities in Jaunpur, which is 38 km from the accident site.

Demanding a high-level inquiry into the accident, Banerjee said in Kolkata, “It has to be examined whether it was an incident or accident. The railways should conduct an inquiry into the accident.”

“During my tenure as railway minister, I had witnessed the Gyaneshwari Express (accident in Bengal). So, a proper inquiry should be conducted to find out the reason behind this accident,” Banerjee said.

Banerjee’s comment is politically significant because of the reference of the 2010 Gyaneshwari Express accident, which she had earlier termed as the handiwork of Bengal communists.

At least 149 people were killed in the accident in Jhargram in West Midnapore district. Banerjee said railway minister Mukul Roy would visit the accident site.

According to passengers who escaped unhurt, the train coming from Howrah was about to reach Varanasi when the accident happened. It was to reach Lucknow at 6 pm.

As several people were still suspected trapped in the derailed coaches, rescue workers had a tough time cutting the steel window bars to reach them. Luggage could be seen strewn around the accident spot.

In Kolkata, Banerjee also promised help to the families of victims of the accident and said the government has opened helplines at the state secretariat as there were several passengers from the state in the train.

The railway ministry has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to those killed in the accident, Rs 1 lakh for those seriously wounded and Rs 25,000 for victims with simple injuries. 

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