Official contradicts PM on Kanpur accident

NEW DELHI MAr 01,
Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told an election rally in Uttar Pradesh that the Kanpur train accident, which killed over 140 people last year, was a “conspiracy planned by people sitting across the border”, the chief of Uttar Pradesh railway police told a video conference organised by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu that there was no sabotage.
On Monday, Mr. Prabhu addressed the railway police chiefs of all the States through video conference to discuss the “railway safety measures” in the wake of recent train accidents.
‘No bomb traces’
Gopal Gupta, DG, Railways, Uttar Pradesh Police, told the participants that the cause of derailment of 14 coaches of the Indore–Patna Express near Kanpur was not an act of sabotage but “fatigue of railway tracks” and they had found no traces of explosives at the accident site.
A source said Mr. Prabhu was not present in the conference when Mr. Gupta made the submissions but senior railway officials who were there could not contradict Mr. Gupta.
Mr. Gupta confirmed that he was present in the meeting but refused to share the details. “We only did the preliminary investigations. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is conducting the final probe,” Mr. Gupta told The Hindu.
In his address to officials, Mr. Prabhu hinted at possible acts of sabotage in recent train accidents and said the NIA was probing three such cases.On Friday, when Mr. Modi hinted at Pakistan’s role in the Kanpur accident, the NIA questioned Shamshul Hoda, a Nepalese businessman arrested in Kathmandu.
Prime suspect
Hoda, wanted by Nepal police in a double murder case, is alleged to be a prime suspect in mobilising people in India to plant explosives at railway tracks allegedly at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI.
Hoda reportedly told an NIA team that he was asked by a Pakistani man identified as Shafi Sheikh to plant explosives at railway tracks in Ghorasan and Nakardehi, both in Bihar, but did not admit planting explosives at Kanpur and at Kuneru in Andhra Pradesh.
As many as 41 persons were killed in a train accident at Kuneru in Andhra Pradesh on January 21. While an IED, packed in a pressure cooker, which was planted at Ghorasan in Motihari, Bihar on October 1 was defused, a low intensity explosion at Nakardehi did not inflict any damage.
The NIA is yet to complete its investigations in rail accidents at Ghorasan, Kanpur and Kuneru.
Mr. Modi had said during the rally, “The Kanpur rail accident in which hundreds were killed was a conspiracy and conspirators carried it out sitting across the border…Gonda is adjoining Nepal…if the cross-border foes want to carry out their work, is it not necessary that more vigil is maintained in Gonda? Gonda needs to elect only those who are full of patriotism, only then we can do anything good for Gonda.”
The probe was handed over to NIA after the Railway Minister shot off a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh alleging sabotage in at least six train accidents.The Nepal police had told The Hindu earlier that they were not sure of the Indian agencies’ claims that Hoda was working on ISI’s behalf but they confirmed that the accused regularly met Shafi Sheikh, in Dubai. Earlier this year, the Nepal police arrested three men, Braj Kishore Giri, Mojahir Ansari and Shambhu alias Laddu, after an encounter for their alleged role in a double murder case.

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