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New Delhi, June 17, 2010
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today named three activists of the Maoist-backed People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) as key accused in the case relating to the May 28 derailment and collision involving the Howrah-Kurla Gyaneshwari Express in West Bengal.
As many as 148 people were killed and about 150 others injured in the incident, which the authorities suspect was the handiwork of Maoists or one of their front organisations.
A press release issued by the CBI here today said the agency had declared a reward of Rs one lakh each for information leading to the arrest of the three "prominent accused" - Umakant Mahto, resident of village Banksole, Manoj alias Bapi Mahto, resident of village Rasua and Asit Mahto, resident of Krishnanagar.
Posters in English, Bengal and the local Alchiki language, with the pictures of the three suspects, were released today and will be displayed at prominent places for seeking information about them.
The press release said information about the suspects could be made available round the clock on telephone numbers 09674433351, 09051444405, 09051061000 and 033-23596119 or sent to fax number 033-23348713. The information can also be sent by e-mail to email@example.com or by mail to Special Crime Branch, CGO Complex, A-Wing, DF Block, Salt Lake, Kolkata-64.
The release said the Director of CBI had also constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to look into the professional investigation of the incident, which had also resulted in the loss of property worth crores of rupees.
The investigation involves close coordination and cooperation between several organizations, agencies and individuals, it said.
The JIT comprises three officers of CBI, three officers of State Police, two officers of Railway Protection Force, one officer of Railway Board and two forensic experts for carrying out the investigation in a time-bound manner. Mr Keshav Kumar, IGP & Joint Director, CBI, is the head of the JIT.
As many as 13 coaches of the superfast train had derailed around 1.30 am on May 28 near Kharagpur and three of them were rammed within minutes by a speeding goods train coming from the opposite direction.
Authorities said the derailment was an act of sabotage by Maoists, whose outfits had declared a "Black Week" in the region. Officials said the driver of the passenger train had reported hearing a loud noise before the Howrah-Kurla superfast train passed the spot.
Television pictures showed about 18 inches of the track missing at the spot where the derailment took place, apparently cut.
The incident occurred between the Khemasoli and Sardiya stations on the Kharagpur-Tatanagar section, about 135 km from Kolkata.