NIA may include AP derailment in ongoing probe


New Delhi: With Railway suspecting sabotage in derailment of Hirakhand Express in Andhra Pradesh, the Home Ministry may ask the NIA to include the incident in its ongoing probe into possible role of Pakistan spy agency ISI in Indore-Patna Express mishap last year.

“The Home Ministry may ask the NIA to see if the derailment in Andhra Pradesh today was a subversive act. The NIA can expand the scope of their ongoing probe,” official sources said.

The National Investigation Agency is looking into the claims of three arrested persons that the derailment of Indore-Patna express on November 20, 2016 in which at least 150 people were killed, was carried out at the behest of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The trio — Moti Paswan, Uma Shankar and Mukesh Yadav — were arrested last week from East Champaran district of Bihar.

They had claimed to have got Rs 3 lakh to plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at Ghorasahan railway station under the district on October 1 last year. Bihar Police has reportedly recovered the IEDs.

A team of NIA officials has already gone to Bihar to probe the accused and verify their claim.

The three arrested persons have reportedly “confessed” about the ISI’s possible role in the last year’s derailment.

They also claimed to be working for the ISI, the sources said.

At least 39 people lost their lives due to the derailment of Hirakhand Express at Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh last night.

Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said there are indications of foul play as a goods train passed the same track just two hours before the mishap, which occurred in the Naxal-prone zone just ahead of the Republic Day.

However, Odisha Police ruled out involvement of Naxals in the mishap. Odisha DGP K B Singh said “there is no indication of Maoist hand behind the derailment”

According to railways, prima facie there was rail fracture which caused the derailment. But it has to be ascertained through whether the fracture was due to sabotage or because of negligence and lack of maintenance.

“The real cause will be known only after inquiry by the Commissioner Railway Safety,” Saxena said.

“There are indications of foul play as goods train passed the same track just two hours before the mishap. The inspection by the patrol team also found the track okay yesterday,” he said

“The driver applied emergency brake after feeling a big jerk and heard a loud sound. The area is Naxal prone and the incident happened just ahead of Republic Day,” Saxena said.

Railway Protection Force Director General S K Bhagat said, “Nothing can be ruled out right now. But the actual cause will be ascertained only after the inquiry.”

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said all angles will be probed and “stringent action” will be taken against those found responsible for it.

“Those responsible for the derailment will not be spared … Stringent action will be taken against those who played with the lives of so many people,” he said.

The mishap comes at a time when Railway Protection Force is on extra vigil in view of Republic Day as there is always apprehension of terror attacks around this period.

Besides, railways has strengthened the safety preparedness after two consecutive train derailments near Kanpur recently, including the one in November.