VARIOUS SECURITY agencies, including the police of three states and multiple states’ counter-terrorism units as well as the Railway Protection Force (RPF), are probing claims made by an Uttar Pradesh native, who had told the police that a gang from Bihar had trained him in techniques to “sabotage railway tracks” and cause derailments. According to the man, the gang that trained him could be responsible for previous train derailments in Uttar Pradesh.
He has told investigators from the Mumbai Police and the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that the gang sought out unemployed young boys and lured them with Rs 70,000 for causing damage to tracks that led to derailments.
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The youth has reportedly disclosed that two men present during the training session he had attended claimed that they had successfully carried out an operation near Kanpur station in November, for which they were paid Rs 70,000 each by their handler, identified as Suresh.
The information comes at a time when the Bihar Police has busted a gang, claiming to have received funds from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to carry out derailments in India. The gang has allegedly confessed to having carried out the derailment of the 14-coach Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur on November 20, claiming 140 lives.
The police got on the trail of the gang after the youth, identified as Vasant Kumar, arrived the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Kurla office on December 29. He reportedly spoke to a railway activist Subhash Gupta, who in turn called the RPF and the local police. Looking at the gravity of the claims, sleuths from the Maharashtra ATS then questioned the man at length before letting him go. Kumar is being treated as an informant.
The Railways Security Directorate, subsequently, shared the information with intelligence agencies and various state police forces, stating that the said gang was planning to carry out major operations during the Republic Day celebrations.
Kumar, who hails from Pauni in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh, has reportedly claimed that on December 25 last year, on the directions of his friends identified as Sujit and Shankar, he decided to visit a spot between Allahabad and Varanasi where the Bihar gang was supposedly carrying out training sessions.
“We were taken to a spot in Varanasi and from there Suresh took all us to a secluded spot, situated between Varanasi and Allahabad. For the next two days, Suresh held hour-long training sessions through drawings, explaining how to remove track keys with the help of hammer and loose track joint plates by iron rod. Suresh had also brought tools in 34 pairs,” Kumar was quoted as saying by intelligence sleuths.
“During the training, two persons — Vinod and Santosh — disclosed that in November last year they have successfully carried out an operation near Kanpur station, for which Suresh paid them Rs 70,000 each.”
Talking to The Indian Express, railway activist Subhash Gupta said while he suspected Kumar’s claims initially but after he started giving details of the operations, he decided to inform the police. “We initially thought he has cooked up the story to get some money and return to his village. But then he gave a lot of details and owing to the sensitive nature of the information, I called up the RPF and officials from other police departments, who interrogated him throughout the night,” Gupta said.
Senior RPF officials told this paper that the information had also been shared with various state police and intelligence departments.
The Maharashtra ATS has also taken cognisance of the inputs given by Kumar and are probing the veracity of his claims.