ADDRESSING a poll rally in Gonda on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the derailment of the Indore-Patna Express in Kanpur Dehat on November 20 last year, in which 150 people were killed, was “a conspiracy hatched across the border”.
“Gonda humara seemavarti zilla hai, Nepal se sata hua hai. Aapne dekha hoga abhi Kanpur me rail akasmaat hua, usme kuch log pakde gaye hain, sainkaron log maare gaye the… Woh akasmaat se nahin, ek shadayantra ke tahat hua tha. Aur shadayantra karne wale kahan baithe huye the? Seema ke us paar. (Gonda is a border district touching Nepal. There was a rail accident in Kanpur, hundreds of people were killed. Some people have been arrested… This was not an accident, it was a conspiracy. Where were the conspirators hiding? Across the border),” he said.
This is the first time that Modi has spoken out about the probable cause of the derailment, endorsing the Bihar police’s claim that it was an act of sabotage. Modi also cited findings and arrests by the Bihar police.
But the twin probes by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) are yet to come up with evidence to support the sabotage theory.
In his letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh last month, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said: “Bihar police unearthed a conspiracy to train some persons in the country to tamper with railway tracks to cause train derailments and (their) possible involvement in the accident near Kanpur on 22.11.2016.”
But the Railways itself has not said that the accident was caused due to sabotage.
The Bihar police, last month, was the first to claim that a Pakistan-backed terror plot was behind the train accidents near Kanpur. Police officials claimed to have learnt this from one of the three men arrested in connection with a foiled terror plot in Motihari.
Samshul Huda, the man deported from Dubai to Nepal earlier this month, is alleged to have acted on the instructions from Pakistan’s ISI to recruit some local youths and execute a terror plot to blow up rail tracks and cause a train accident in Motihari. Investigators, however, are yet to connect Huda with last year’s train accidents.
The three men arrested in Motihari are reported to have been recruited by Huda. One of them reportedly indicated that he was involved in the Kanpur derailment.
However, the NIA probe is yet to corroborate the claims, with investigators indicating that the Kanpur accident did not look like a terror attack. Mobile phone records and subsequent interrogations are yet to support the terror theory.
On the Railways side, too, the evidence being processed by the CRS — and the interrogations and depositions of all involved — did not indicate sabotage.
The CRS is looking at whether the train derailed due to faults in the coach which caused damage to the tracks or if the tracks cracked open because of a fault from within, as in the case of classic rail fractures.
Sources involved in the investigation said there were fresh, deep gashes on the front wheels of the first coach after the engine. The train’s emergency brakes were applied at 110 kmph at 3.03 am, after the driver felt a jerk. Neither on the night of the accident, nor during questioning, did the driver mention any explosion. Engineers and people manning the section had also cleared the path as fit, devoid of any irregularity — especially any potentially suspicious or unsafe foreign object on the track.
Sources said portions of the track which gave way also had evidence of corrosion. Samples from the rolling stock too had evidence of corrosion. No evidence processed so far has hinted at sabotage.
At the rally in Gonda, Modi also appealed for votes to ensure the “security” of Gonda. “Agar seema paar ke dushman apna karobaar, seema ke us paar se chalana chahte hain, toh Gonda me zyada suraksha ki zarurat hai ki nahin. Agar wo log chun ke aayenge jo aise logon ki madad karenge, toh Gonda surakshit hoga kya? Gonda surakshit nahin hoga, toh desh surakshit nahin hoga. Gonda me toh aise logon ko chun ke bithana hai jo desh bhakti se bhare huye hain. Isliye chunav me koi galati nahin honi chahiye. UP ke kisi aur ilaake me ekaadh galati ho jaye, to itna nuksan nahin hota. Lekin Gonda me aise galati ho jaye, toh iska bahut nuksan ho jata hai. SP, BSP ka ek bhi nahin jeetna chahiye. Shat pratishat BJP ko vijay banana chahiye (If the enemy wants to run his business from across the border, isn’t there a need for greater security in Gonda? If those who help such people get elected, will Gonda be safe? If Gonda is not safe, will the country be safe. You should choose patriotic people in Gonda. There should not be any mistake in the elections. If there are a few mistakes in other regions of UP, it will will not be as harmful as in Gonda. The SP and BSP should not win any seats, BJP should be given 100 per cent victory),” he said.