Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday alleged that there was a political conspiracy behind the Gyaneshwari Express disaster in West Midnapore and said the Centre has agreed for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the mishap.
"From the railways, we have requested the Union home ministry for a CBI investigation into the incident, since it was in Jangalmahal where the joint operation (against Maoists) is on. We have already sent a letter and the Centre has agreed to order it," Banerjee told reporters in Kolkata.
Without mentioning names, she said, "Whoever did it, it was a political conspiracy. The accident has happened two days before the (civic) election. One may be politically against us, but I feel bad about the way the incident was engineered to fulfill one's political interest."
Sources in Delhi said the CBI is likely to probe the derailment, which claimed over 100 lives, and the home ministry is in touch with the railway ministry and the West Bengal government.
Home ministry officials feel that the CBI can conduct a thorough investigation as it has sufficient expertise and infrastructure to do it, they said. According to the sources, prima facie the probe indicated the involvement of Maoists, who have a strong presence in the area. Several leaflets of Maoists-backed People's Committee Against Police Atrocities being found near the mishap site.
The investigating agencies have also found it a little hard to believe that there was a blast leading to the derailment and such huge casualties. "Had there been a blast, there would have been a crater. But there is no sign of any crater along the track on the spot," an official said.
West Bengal Inspector General of Police S Karpurakayastha said the Maoists link in the derailment was clear, but declined to say if more evidence has been found. Asked about whether there had been a blast prior to the derailment, he said the forensic report was awaited.
Home Minister P Chidambaram had said on Friday that the train derailment in West Midnapore appeared to be an act of sabotage, but it was not yet clear whether explosives were used to blast the tracks.
On the police theory that fish plates were removed from the tracks, Banerjee said, "I do not know from where this story has come. The railway lines there were long-welded railway lines which have no fish plates."