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Van used by saboteurs seized, PCPA member arrested

June 04, 2010 21:55 IST

The Kolkata police seized a pickup van on Friday, which it claimed was used to ferry men who sabotaged the railway tracks leading to the Jnaneswari Express derailment.

The husband of the vehicle owner was arrested and remanded in police custody for 10 days, Central Investigation Department sources said.

The van was registered in the name of Chhabi Mahato, a former Communist Party of India (Marxist) panchayat member of Sardiya, they said adding that her husband Khagen Mahato was arrested by CID sleuths from Kharagpur town in West Midnapore district on Thursday night.

The sources said Mahato had used the van to ferry the saboteurs to the railway tracks at around 10:00 pm on May 27, hours before the disaster that left 148 dead.

A mobile phone from which Mahato made a number of calls that night was also seized, they said.

The saboteurs, including People's Committee against Police Atrocities members Bapi Mahato, Manik Mahato, Umakanta Mahato and some others had held a meeting at a Shiva temple at Muramoni to firm up their plans, the sources said.

Khagen Mahato was produced before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Sheik Mohammed Reza, who remanded him to police custody for 10 days, turning down the CID's plea for 14 days.

Mahato was charged under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempted murder) and 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons).

The CID has been entrusted by the West Bengal government to investigate the train disaster.

West Bengal Chief Secretary Ardhendu Sen told journalists in Kolkata on Friday that though the state government has received a notification from the Centre on the CBI probe into the incident, it did not get the terms of reference.

He said the CID investigation would continue till the terms of reference were received.

The Centre had on June 2 ordered a CBI inquiry, which was demanded by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee who alleged a political conspiracy behind the incident.

Meanwhile, the CBI is examining the documents related to the derailment of Jnaneswari Express and is yet to register a case.

"We have still not registered a case. We are examining it," sources said.

The Department of Personnel and TrainingĀ had issued a notification on Thursday handing over the probe to the CBI.

Demand for a CBI probe was made by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had alleged "political conspiracy" behind the incident, hinting at rival CPI-M's hand in the derailment.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had, however, said that the needle of suspicion pointed to Maoists or its front organisations.

The decision to go ahead with a CBI probe was taken as the incident had taken place on railway property and therefore did not require concurrence of the state government concerned, the sources added.

During the investigation, the CBI will be helped by Central security agencies, Railway Protection Force and West Bengal government.
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