CHAPRA/PATNA/GUWAHATI, June 25 � At least four passengers were killed and 23 others injured when 12 coaches of the Dibrugarh-bound Rajdhani Express derailed near Chapra in Bihar�s Saran district today, with a controversy arising whether the Maoists had a hand in it, reports PTI.
Altogether 18 wagons of a goods train also derailed in a blast in East Champaran district suspected to have been triggered by ultras, Superintendent of Police Vinay Kumar said.
Seven coaches, B-5 to B-10 and the power car of the New Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express derailed at the Golden Ganj Station, about 75 km from Patna, while five coaches, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-4 and the pantry car overturned at 2:11 am, Chief Public Relations Officer of East Central Railway Arvind Kumar Rajak said.
Some of the coaches were hurled as far as 700 feet away from the track, he said. Three passengers were killed and another succumbed to injuries in hospital, Rajak said.
Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda, after inspecting the accident spot, said that the sabotage angle and its denial would both be considered during investigation.
Gowda announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the family of each of the dead, Rs 1 lakh each for the grievously injured passengers and Rs 20,000 each for those with minor injuries.
As per the list of dead and injured passengers received from East Central Railway, the deceased were identified as Bharti Bedi (45), wife of Sanjiv Bedi of Ferozepur in Punjab, Pawan Kumar Dhawan (55) and his wife Neelam Dhawan (42), besides Shefali Dey (65), wife of Anil Chandra Dey of Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh.
Northeast Frontier Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Sugato Lahiri said the grievously injured passengers, including three women and a girl, were admitted to the Patna Medical College Hospital.
They are Jitendra Nath Verma, son of Upendra Nath Verma of Barpeta, Vipul Shukla, son of Ambuja Shukla of Guwahati, Shivali Sharma, wife of PC Sharma of Guwahati, Mauli Dhawan, son of Pawan Kumar Dhawan of Ferozepur in Punjab, Ashisho Saikia, son of Anand Lal Saikia of Guwahati, Rita Nath, wife of Dineswar Nath of Guwahati, Chameli Devi, wife of Sewa Ram of Pilibhit, Archana Beri (12), daughter of Sanjay Beri of Ferozepur in Punjab and Tega Ram, son of Nanhe Lal of Pilibhit.
Those who have received simple injury, including two women and an infant girl, have been admitted to the Chapra Sadar Hospital. They are Ranjit, Ram Prasad, Badamu Devi, Saloni (9 months), Ahmad Raja, Mishant, Ram Dayal Singh, Manju Sindh and Jan Dil, Lahiri said.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said it was too early to blame the Maoists for the accident.
Earlier, Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar told PTI in Delhi, �Prima facie, it appears to be a case of sabotage. There was a blast on the track, which could have caused the derailment.�
Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi disputed that the accident was caused by Maoists. �Prima facie it does not appear to be the handiwork of Maoists in the derailment of the Rajdhani Express at Chapra,� he told reporters.
�No trace of blast on the track or any other evidence suggesting sabotage was found so far. It appears to be a result of error on the part of the Railways,� he said.
Saran District Magistrate Kundan Kumar also told PTI that the accident seemed be due to operational problems and not caused by Maoists.
He told reporters that another train, the Kaviguru Express had crossed the area safely 15 minutes before the ill-fated Rajdhani Express.
Moreover, the place where the train derailed was not a secluded place, but in a town with regular railway traffic. Therefore, any attempt to plant bombs or other Maoist activity could have been easily spotted, the DM said.
Kumar also said the casualty would have been higher, if it was an act of sabotage.
A PMO release said in Delhi, �Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the loss of lives due to the accident of the Dibrugarh-bound Rajdhani Express. He prays for the speedy recovery of the injured.�
Congress president Sonia Gandhi also expressed grief over the loss of lives in the mishap and hoped that the cause behind the accident was being investigated.
Our Staff Reporter adds in Guwahati: The Railways organised a special train to transport the other stranded passengers to Assam and other destinations. The special train is expected to reach Guwahati around 7 am tomorrow morning.
One passenger, Armaan Hasib of Assam, posted a message on a social networking site after the accident. Hasib also posted photos from the accident site.
�The Rajdhani Express I was travelling in got derailed� me and my parents are safe by God�s grace,� said his status update this morning.
Some time later he posted another update, �Etya beleg ekhon train dise� we don�t even have place to sit� tenekei manage korisu aru. (Now they have provided us with another train� we are somehow managing).�