Bengal train blast: Local politicians, criminals also on NIA radar

New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) Political parties, local gangs and terrorist organisations are among the suspects the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is tracking in its probe into the explosion in a suburban train in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district.

NIA top brass have instructed officers investigating the blast on train number 31811 (Sealdah-Krishnanagar EMU local) at Titagarh railway station on May 12 to keep political parties and local gangs on its radar.

“We are a specialised unit for handling terrorist cases because of which the government handed us the probe into the train blast. But we cannot avoid the West Bengal Police theory of local gangs’ involvement. Political parties are also on our radar,” an NIA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IANS.

A total of 15 passengers were injured, six of them seriously of which one succumbed to his injuries later, in the blast which took place about 4 a.m. in the fifth compartment from the engine of the local train under Eastern Railway’s Sealdah Main section.

The train had left Sealdah station at 3.20 a.m. and reached Titagarh station at 3.55 a.m. The blast took place just after a person boarded the train at Titagarh.

Earlier the West Bengal CID had claimed that two groups travelling in the train clashed and hurled crude bombs at each other.

The NIA took over the investigation July 3 as per an home ministry order dated June 26 and registering a case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons, attempt to murder, wrongful restraint as well as of the Explosive Substances Act and the Railway Act.

Including this case, the agency, as of now, has registered a total of 103 cases. The judgment in at least 14 cases has been given, while conviction has been ordered in 12 cases. However, charge sheets have been filed in only 60 cases.

“The West Bengal Police has been particularly slow in reacting to such incidents. They had a similar slow reaction when the Burdwan episode was first reported,” said the official, referring to the October 2 accidental blast took place inside a house in which two Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants were killed and another injured and unearthed the group’s conspiracy to overthrow the democratically-elected government in Bangladesh.

“Most of the blasts in West Bengal are being passed of as minor episodes and results of political rivalry. So we will also keep focus on earlier activities of political parties,” he said.

According to the official, the NIA had unearthed several bomb factories during the Burdwan probe. “As bombs are prepared locally, it might be the handiwork of two gangs,” he said.

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