West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday hit out at the BJP-ruled central government alleging that there were attempts to suppress the cause of the train accident in Odisha.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was engaged to probe into the June 2 triple train crash but pieces of evidence have already been removed as was done after the Pulwama terror attack in 2019, Banerjee claimed.
"I had thought of not saying all these things, but the situation has forced me to do so. This is the biggest accident of the 20th century. But there are attempts to suppress the cause of the accident. Those who have lost family members want to know the truth. What will the CBI do? This is not a criminal case," Banerjee said.
"Have you not seen the Pulwama case? What did the then governor of Kashmir say? In order to cover up the actual reason, everything was cleared and no evidence remained. I want the truth to come out," she said.
Referring to the Pulwama terror attack, former Jammu and Kashmir governor Satyapal Malik had last month asserted that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were “fought on the bodies of our soldiers” and the then home minister would have to resign had there been a probe into the incident.
"Instead of carrying out a probe into the train accident, Delhi has sent CBI officers to 14-15 municipalities in Kolkata, to urban development (department offices)... They are entering everywhere. Will they now get inside people’s bathrooms? By doing all these, you (Centre) will not be able to hide the actual reason leading to the accident," she said.
The central probe agency on Wednesday conducted raids at multiple locations in West Bengal in connection with its probe into alleged irregularities in recruitment in civic bodies.
Banerjee was speaking at a programme organised by the West Bengal government to hand over cheques and appointment letters to the next of kin of those residents of the state who were killed or injured in the accident that occurred in Balasore district of Odisha.
The chief minister said that 103 people of West Bengal were killed in the incident and 86 of them could be identified so far. She also said that 172 suffered major injuries while 635 had minor injuries.
Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, demanded exemplary punishment for those behind the accident.
Stating that she has got a request from a student, whose father is a victim of the triple train crash, for "free education", the chief minister announced that the state government would help 100 boys and girls facing a similar situation.
Banerjee said that the next of kin of all 86 state people killed in the accident were given appointments as special home guards apart from Rs 5 lakh.
Banerjee also directed the police department to find provisions to utilise people who are skilled workers -- in zari designing and construction works -- for the Force.
She directed Women and Child Development and Social Welfare Minister Shashi Panja to constitute a provision to have 'Special Asha' and 'Special ICDS', so that girls, who were travelling outside the state in search of jobs, could get work in the state.
Referring to the Rs 10 lakh compensation paid by the Railways to those killed in the accident, Banerjee said that the Centre was not doing any favour to the people, but it was its responsibility.
"When we were in the ministry, we used to give Rs 15 lakh. Now, it is giving Rs 10 lakh,” she said.
The Coromandel Express crashed into a stationary goods train, derailing most of its coaches at 7 pm on June 2. A few of those toppled over the last few coaches of the Bengaluru-Howrah Express which was passing by at the same time.
In all, 288 people died in the accident and more than 1,200 were injured.
- With PTI Input