Odisha train accident: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had earlier expressed disagreement over the death toll in Odisha in the train accident, again hit the Centre for allegedly abusing her, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, and former Rail Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Addressing a press conference in Kolkata on Sunday, she asserted that the BJP-led government has changed the numbers-- a rhetoric she cited while visiting the accident site on Saturday. Earlier on Saturday, preliminary investigations claimed that the Coromandel Express train involved in a horrific rail tragedy in Odisha on Friday entered the loop line and crashed into a goods train parked there instead of the main line just ahead of the Bahanagar Bazar station. The coaches of Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express capsized after crashing into the coaches of Coromandel Express that had scattered on the adjacent track.
According to the officials, this led to the death of 275 people. However, when Mamata visited the accident site along with Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Saturday morning, Mamata said she heard "the death tool can go up to 500." Echoing the same, she said, "Those who can change history, can change any number. Instead of standing with people, they're abusing me, Nitishji, Laluji...."
Further, she recounted the horrific 2002 Godhra train incident where more than 59 Hindu pilgrims and "karsevaks" returning from Ayodhya were killed in a fire inside the Sabarmati Express near the Godhra railway station. "How did a fire break out in a running train in Godhra (in 2002)?... So many people died, they should have at least sought an apology," said Banerjee.
'Dal mein kuch kaala hai': Mamata
"When yesterday he (Railways minister) was present with me and I mentioned about anti-collision device, why didn't he open his mouth? 'Dal mein kuch kaala hai', we want the truth to come out," said Banerjee.
The Indian Railways, which has initiated a high-level probe into the train crash to be headed by the commissioner of railway safety, South Eastern Circle, has clarified that anti-train collision system "Kavach" was not available on the route.
Lalu demands resignation of Rail Minister
Earlier on Saturday, former railway minister and RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav alleged that the BJP-led government at the Centre has "destroyed" the railways and claimed that sheer negligence has caused the train tragedy. Prasad said the government must also consider increasing the ex-gratia announced for the injured.
Meanwhile, RJD's partner JD(U) demanded the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. "The railway minister must resign after this incident. Our leader Nitish Kumar had resigned as railway minister taking moral responsibility for the Gaisal train disaster in Assam in August 1999 that had killed 290 people," JD(U) spokesperson Abhishek Jha said.