Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi today ruled out the involvement of Maoists in the Rajdhani Express derailment in Chhapra which left four persons dead and said the incident appears to be a result of “error” on the part of Railways.
“Prima facie it does not appear to be the handiwork of Maoists in the Rajdhani derailment at Chapra,” he told reporters.
He ruled out “sabotage” by Maoists as the cause behind the derailment of New Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express. “No trace of blast on the track or any other evidence suggesting sabotage has been found so far,” he said.
Manjhi said he spoke to Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda about the incident and also drew his attention towards announcement of ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the family of the dead whereas the standard practise is to pay Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia in such cases.
He questioned why a pilot engine was not run ahead of Rajdhani Express as per standard practise in the Maoists-hit region.
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“The incident appears to be a result of error on the part of Railways,” he said.
Expressing grief over the loss of lives, Manjhi announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 to the next of kin of the dead. He also announced free medical treatment for the injured taken to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) from Chapra.
Director General of Police P K Thakur, who assumed duty as DGP yesterday, also ruled out Maoist involvement.
“No indication of blast or live bombs have been found from tracks from near the incident site so far,” Thakur said.
He said Additional Director General of Police, Rail, K S Dwivedi has been sent to the spot in Chapra for investigation.
Dwivedi, who was on way to Chapra, said that he has already despatched a forensic and bomb disposal team.
Four passengers were killed and eight injured when the Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express derailed at Golden Ganj station near Chapra early today.
Manjhi’s predecessor Nitish Kumar too questioned what prompted the Railways to attribute the derailment to sabotage by the Maoists.
“Any conclusion shall be reached only after an investigation,” said Kumar, who served as Railway minister in the NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The senior JD(U) leader sought to know why a pilot engine was not run ahead of the Rajdhani Express which was a standard practise in Maoist-hit Bihar and Jharkhand.
Kumar, along with Manjhi, also questioned lowering of ex-gratia payment to the family of dead to Rs two lakh each from Rs five lakh provided earlier.
The railways announced ex-gratia of Rs two lakh for the family of each of the dead, Rs one lakh for the grievously injured passengers, and Rs 20,000 for those with minor injuries.