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Bengal Farmer Saw Saboteurs Walking Towards Track With Shovels, Hammers

Sardiha: A 70-year-old farmer  Ratan Mahato (name changed)  claims he saw nearly 25 to 30 people walking in the darkness towards the rail track carrying shovels, sledgehammers, pickaxes and crowbars to carry out the derailment
PTI May 29, 2010 13:16 IST
PTI
Sardiha: A 70-year-old farmer  Ratan Mahato (name changed)  claims he saw nearly 25 to 30 people walking in the darkness towards the rail track carrying shovels, sledgehammers, pickaxes and crowbars to carry out the derailment of Gyaneshwari Super Deluxe Express which led to the death of nearly 100 innocent lives, reports The Telegraph, Kolkata.  

Mahato says, on that fateful night, he could not sleep because of the oppressive heat. It was close to midnight when he came out of his mud-walled hut in Nurimole village, about a kilometre from the site of the Jnaneswari disaster, to take in some fresh air. He was in his courtyard when he spied some movement under a tree just beyond the bamboo fence of his hut.



Says Mahato: “I peered into the darkness and found a group of people, some standing and some squatting. Many of them were smoking bidis,” said Ratan, whose name has been changed to protect his identity. Mahato says it was not normal for villagers to gather so late at night.  

“Standing behind my fence, I heard whispers. I could see their faces in the glow of their bidis,” said the farmer who cultivates paddy on his half-acre plot.

After about half an hour, the group of around 25 to 30 men walked slowly towards the railway tracks, a kilometre away. 



“It was when they came out from under the tree and started walking towards the tracks that I noticed that they were holding pickaxes, crowbars, shovels and sledgehammers over their shoulders.  

“I wondered where they were going at this hour. Then I thought they are poor labourers from other villages going to Guptamoni (3km away) to catch the early morning bus to work,” said Ratan.

As the group of men walked towards the tracks, Ratan went back into his hut where his wife, son and daughter-in-law were sleeping. He tried to get some sleep but could not. Then, suddenly, he heard a loud bang but could not make out what it was.

“A little later, I heard loud screams. I thought it could be residents of neighbouring villages who had come out of their houses to drive away elephants by bursting firecrackers. I thought the bang could be the sound of bursting crackers. Then I dozed off,” Ratan said.



Ratan was woken up again by the screams and through the window, saw the sky over the tracks glowing.

“I looked through the window and saw about a hundred villagers heading for the tracks. I asked one of them what had happened and he told me that there had been a big train accident. I hurried out and followed the villagers. On reaching the spot, I found the train's compartments derailed and injured people screaming for help.  

“I heard that some people had tampered with the tracks. I remembered the people walking towards the tracks with pickaxes, crowbars, shovels and sledgehammers. Now I realise that those people were going to sabotage the railway tracks,” Ratan said.

West Midnapore superintendent of police Manoj Verma said that preliminary investigation suggested that there were about 70 to 80 people in the group.  

“We have information that there were at least 25 hardcore Maoists with the villagers, who were forced to join them from villages six to seven kilometres from the disaster site,” Verma added.