"It is a bomb blast case. After the blast, the train derailed and the accident happened. According to information given by Railway Police Force and officials TNT and Gelatine sticks were found at the accident," Banerjee told reporters shortly after visiting the spot. At least 65 persons were killed and 200 injured in the derailment early today.
Banerjee, who rushed to spot from Kolkata, said that a patrol engine had passed through the area half-an-hour earlier, but the timing of the blast proved disastrous with a portion of the line being blown away.
Asked specifically if Maoists were responsible, she said that because of the 'bomb blast' the apprehension was that they were behind it. "Let the rescue operations be over. After that we will get a report." She however said the timing and the manner in which the attack occured pointed to a Maoist hand.
When asked about Railways running trains in Maoist-affected areas, she replied, "should we stop running trains? Railway is a lifeline. It has been made a soft target. It should not be disturbed. We have restricted the speed of trains running through Maoist areas at 45 kmph.
"It is very unfortunate that so many innocent lives have been lost. We should not play games with innocent lives."
She said that the next of kin of each of the dead would be paid Rs five lakh and injured Rs one lakh. The Railways would also provide employment to a member of families of each of those killed.
Stating that the Railways has already ordered a high-powered probe, she said, "I will write a letter to the Union Home minister for a separate investigation."
The Railways was running trains in coordination with the state administration. "Law and order is a state subject.
State government and Home Ministry should look into it.
Four medical teams were at the spot and rescue
operations by the Railways and Army was in full swing, she
She claimed that personnel from all railway
departments had reached the accident immediately afterwards.
"I left at 2:00 am after being informed," she said.
Jhargram: Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said a "bomb blast" triggered by Maoists on the rail track caused the derailment of the Howrah-Kurla express train and that TNT explosives and Gelatine sticks were found at the accident site.
First Published: Friday, May 28, 2010, 12:16