Conflicting statements by leaders on the two train derailments in Bihar on Wednesday triggered confusion with BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy hinting at the role of Maoists while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh refused to rush to any conclusion.
Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi denied the involvement of the Left wing extremists in the mishaps.
Rajnath Singh, who briefed Modi after speaking to rail officials on the spot, said it was too early to blame Maoists for the derailment of the Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express.
“The prime minister has been informed of the developments and he agrees that it is too early to blame the Maoists. Let us wait for further reports on the incident,” Singh told reporters.
Singh, however, said the derailment of a goods train at Motihari, about 60 km away from the site of Rajdhani Express mishap, could be the handiwork of Maoists.
Rudy, a BJP MP from Bihar, rushed to the accident site, where he hinted at Maoists’ role, saying 20 springs attached to fishplates appeared to have been removed from the track.
“Although I am not an expert on Maoist activities, I can say that based on visible evidence at the spot, there is something unusual about this,” Rudy was quoted as saying by the PTI.
He said he was not contradicting the home minister but was only recounting the material evidence at the spot that pointed to a Maoist role.
While Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said prima facie, it appears to be a case of sabotage, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda said he would not rush to any conclusion.
Manjhi also disputed claims that the accident was caused by Maoists. “Prima facie, the Rajdhani derailment does not appear to be the handiwork of Maoists at Chapra. No trace of a blast on the track or any other evidence suggesting sabotage has been found so far. It appears to be an error on the part of the Railways,” he said.
The derailment and sabotage rumours also figured in the meeting of the Union Cabinet, which took place in the evening on Wednesday.
Modi referred to the mishap and his Cabinet colleagues joined him in expressing concern.
“The Cabinet discussed it informally,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. He said there were “reports” and “talks” that sabotage could have caused the tragedy.