Mamata offers to meet those behind sabotage attempt for talks



Howrah: Expressing anger at the removal of connectors between two tracks by suspected Maoists near West Bengal's Gidni station on Wednesday, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee challenged those behind the incident to come forward and also offered to meet them at a time and place of their choice.

Passengers of the New Delhi-Puri Purushottam Express had a narrow escape in the wee hours today as suspected Maoists removed the pandoral clips on a 400 metre stretch just before the train was to cross the area.

"To those who are indulging in sabotage, I say, if you have a political battle, fight it in the open like heroes and not like cowards from behind. Tell me when you want to see me, today, tomorrow, the day after? Just let me know, and I'll be there," she said without naming the Maoists.

Banerjee, who was flagging off six trains from the Howrah terminal here, said those behind the incident wanted an accident to occur but alertness of patrolling staff averted a mishap.

"It must be understood that the Railways is not my parental property. It is a national property," she said.

Banerjee instructed the general manager of South Eastern Railway to award those railway staff whose alertness had averted a possible accident at Gidni.

She pointed out that 1.30 lakh people died in road accidents annually as compared to about 1,000 in the Railways. "However even a single death in accident is undesirable," she said.

Banerjee announced at the function that the Railways would give employment to Gouranga Sardar, a 19-year-old resident of Canning in South 24-Paragans district who in 1997 had saved a Sealdah-Canning local from an accident by alerting the railway staff.

"I was not the Railway minister when Gouranga, then a seven-year-old, had saved the train. But I thought it was our obligation to acknowledge his initiative. So we have responded to his appeal for a job," she said.

PTI