The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata fires rail salvo

Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee on Saturday launched a frontal attack on railway minister Nitish Kumar, squarely blaming him for the Rajdhani Express accident and “neglecting the passengers’ security in his eagerness to speed up Eastern Railway’s bifurcation”.

“Kumar cannot become a political hero by simply going ahead with the railway bifurcation. As the railway minister he cannot evade his responsibility for the passengers’ safety,” she told reporters in Behrampore on Saturday afternoon.

The Trinamul leader, who reached here on Friday night after addressing a public rally at Santipur in Nadia district, later left for Gangarampur in South Dinajpur to attend another public meeting. She is expected to return to Behrampore after addressing a rally at Balurghat in North Dinajpur district on Sunday. Mamata is also scheduled to speak at a party workers’ meeting at Rabindra Sadan here on Monday before leaving for Calcutta.

“I did not speak out against the railway minister earlier just for the sake of courtesy. But I am surprised at his role in the aftermath of the accident. The pace of relief work has been painfully slow. Bodies of a number of passengers are yet to be traced. After meeting the victims’ families I came to learn that they had to pay Rs 500 as bribe to receive the bodies. This is inhuman. The officials also could not provide them information about their near and dear ones even a couple of days after the accident,” the Trinamul leader observed.

Mamata alleged that Kumar had ordered about 2,500 railway workers, who used to maintain the track along which Rajdhani Express plies, to be transferred to Hajipur, headquarters of the proposed East-Central railway. “This may be one of the reasons for the accident,” she asserted.

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