'Patrolling was done an hour before'

Red terror on track: Trains running at low speed: Mamata

'Patrolling was done an hour before'

Lost in transit: An injured passenger reacts as she stands with others at the scene of a train crash near Sardiha in West  Bengal on Friday. AP

“Patrolling was done an hour ago. The Maoists are very particular about the timing. They are adjusting it according to patrol time.”  A single light engine, she claimed, was run on the track a few hours before the accident, and about five trains had run on it thereafter, at intervals of 15 to 20 minutes. The speed of all trains running in the night through Maoist-infested areas was no more than 45 km per hour, she added.

A red alert has been sounded from midnight of May 28 owing to the Maoist call for a series of Black Days. Banerjee also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the next of kin of each of the dead and Rs 1 lakh for the injured.

State Director General of Police, Bhupinder Singh, said a 46cm-portion of the train track was missing, and that the Maoists had claimed responsibility for the act of sabotage.

Posters from the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) that has ties with the Naxals, had been found at the scene taking responsibility for the attack. The posters said that the rebels had demanded withdrawal of joint security forces from Lalgarh and adjacent areas and end of CPM atrocities. These demands were not met, the rebels claimed. However, a spokesman for PCAPA, Asit Mahato, denied any role of the outfit in it. “We were in no way involved. This is not our act. What can we do if somebody claims responsibility on our behalf?” he was quoted as saying.

According to the SER spokesman, the train had 24 coaches. After the explosion, 13, including 10 sleeper coaches, derailed, of which five were hit by the freight train. An unreserved coach, the pantry car and luggage van also derailed. Nine of the coaches, which were not damaged, took the injured and the other passengers to Kharagpur, to be admitted in hospital. “The death and damage would have been far less if the goods train had not rammed into the derailed coaches of the Mumbai-bound Express,” he explained.

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