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Naxals, front groups behind train attack: Chidambaram

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday said Maoists or their front groups could be behind the attack on Jnaneswari Express.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday said Maoists or its front groups could be behind the attack on Jnaneswari Express, a theory contrary to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee`s claim that it was a conspiracy of the West Bengal government.

Chidambaram said the Railways favoured a CBI probe into the incident which claimed 148 lives but the state government`s view on it has not been received yet.

"The needle of suspicion points to Maoists or frontal organisations of CPI Maoists," Chidambaram said during his monthly media briefing. "However, the identity of the culprit can be established only in the investigations.

The Home Minister`s remark is contrary to what Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has alleged - that her political rivals had conspired to cause the accident ahead of Sunday`s civic polls in West Bengal.

The Trinamool Congress chief has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the "political conspiracy" behind the accident.

"Railway Ministry has suggested that there should be a CBI inquiry. We have asked for West Bengal government`s views. We have not yet received their views," he said.

The Home Minister also contradicted Banerjee, who had said that explosives were used to damage the railway track that led to derailment of the Mumbai-bound Gyaneshwari Express early Friday. The engine and 13 coaches of the train derailed. Five coaches rolled on to a parallel track and were hit by a freight train in the Maoist stronghold in West Midnapore district.

Asked about reports of blast on the track, Chidambaram said, "I have been told by the West Bengal government and other police officials who visited the site that so far there is no trace of any explosives. The West Bengal government is on record saying panrole clips were removed and track was cut. That is also prima facie established. Only further investigations will bring out the truth."

To a question whether the government, seeing the heightened violence from Naxal side, was contemplating the use of air power, Chidambaram said that he had no comments to offer on the issue.

Anti-Naxal operational strategy

With the Left-wing extremists
upping their ante and targeting civilians besides security
forces, the Cabinet Committee on Security is likely to review
the strategy dealing with Naxals.

"I am told the meeting of CCS is scheduled shortly," Home
Minister P Chidambaram told reporters when asked whether the
government was planning to revisit the ongoing anti-Naxal
operational strategy.

The Home Minister was replying to questions on the
growing Naxal attacks during his monthly briefing in which he
presented a report card of the Ministry for the month of May.

As many as 172 civilians and 29 security personnel were
killed by Naxals during the month of May which included the
recent derailing of a passenger train in West Midnapore by
suspected Maoists which claimed 148 lives.

Asked whether he had allowed Swami Agnivesh to act as a
mediator for talks between the Centre and the Naxals, he said
that he had written a letter to the social activist which
spells the broad parameters for the government to hold talks
with the Maoists.

To a question whether the government, seeing the
heightened violence from Naxal side, was contemplating the use
of air power, Chidambaram said that he had no comments to
offer on the issue.

Asked whether the Home Ministry`s stand on Naxals will be
diluted following the inclusion of some human rights activists
in the newly-constituted National Advisory Council, he said,
"There is no stand of the Home Ministry. There is a policy of
the government of India."

High-tech weapons for Para troops

As part of its plan to arm
paramilitary troops, including those operating in Naxal-hit
areas, with high-tech weapons, government has sanctioned
procurements of armoured and bullet proof vehicles besides
arms valuing nearly Rs 300 crore.

The Union Home Ministry in the last one month has
sanctioned 119 TATA Light Armoured Troop Carriers (LATC) worth
Rs 49.90 crore and 98 bullet proof Mahindra Rakshaks and three
LATCs at a cost of Rs 37.97 crore, Home Minister P Chidambaram
said today.

The ministry has also approved procurement of night
vision devices for rifles at a cost of Rs 184.80 crore,
besides 146 automatic grenade launchers and 47,030 grenades
are also been bought from a Russian firm Rosoboron Export at a
cost of Rs 22.95 crore.

Laser range finders is also being procured from Fotono,
a Slovenian firm at a cost of Rs 1.33 crore. In all,
procurements amounting to Rs 296.95 crore has been approved by
the ministry, Chidambaram said.

Besides the above mentioned items, in the last two months
alone, the Home Ministry has given sanction to a number of
modernisation programmes of paramilitary forces, including
procurement of 59,000 light-weight bullet-proof jackets.

Official sources said paramilitary forces like CRPF, BSF
NSG, ITBP are being re-equipped at breakneck speed with new
weapons, bullet-proof jackets, riot gear and armoured

The NSG has recently placed an order of over 800
state-of-the-art SIG rifles, something which certain other
forces are also looking at. Last month, the MHA sanctioned
procurement of 378 automatic grenade launchers and related
ammunition at a total cost of Rs 37.83 crore.

It also sanctioned procurement of 34,377 carbines for
the BSF at a cost of Rs 137.51 crore. The CISF, which guards
airports, nuclear plants and other sensitive installations,
already uses Glock pistols and will also procure 1,000 more
such weapons at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore, the source said.

Global equipment suppliers who have recently been
camping in New Delhi and displaying their lethal wares,
estimate that the India market for internal-security related
equipment will be worth a whopping Rs 45,000 crore over the
period of next two to three years.

Right wing terrorism

Government has no plans to set
up a special cell to deal with cases of right wing terrorism.
"Right wing terror, left wing terror, terror is
terror.... All kinds of terror fall under the MHA...there is
no need to create a separate cell," Home Minister P
Chidambaram said today when asked whether the Home Ministry
has any plans to set up a separate cell to deal with the
reports of growing activities of right-wing extremists.

Chidambaram said the National Investigation Agency
(NIA) has been constituted to investigate terrorism related

"So, whatever is the source of terror, if there is
a terrorist related case it will be looked into by the NIA
depending upon the significance and importance of the case,"
he told reporters while presenting a monthly report of his

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