The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) questioned a man 11 years after he was declared dead in the Gyaneswari Express accident along with 147 other passengers. Amritava Chaudhury is a resident of Jorabagan in north Kolkata. The CBI questioned him in connection with a scam that allegedly helped the man’s sister get a government job. His family, too, was paid monetary compensation by the state and the union government, officials said.
The CBI questioned the suspect’s father, Mihir Chaudhury, too. The Chaudhury family were summoned to the anti-corruption branch of the CBI at Nizam Palace on 20 June afternoon. They have been asked to appear again. Amritava Chaudhury told the media that he was ready to return the monetary compensation along with interest and his sister would resign from the job she was given. “I have been framed,” he said.
CBI officials said Amritava Chaudhury invested the money in his business.
Thirteen compartments of the Mumbai-bound Gyaneswari Express had got derailed at a place in District West Midnapore on 28 May 2010. Five of the bodies had landed on the adjacent railway tracks. The five compartments were hit by a goods train coming from the opposite direction.
As many as 148 passengers were killed and around 200 were injured. The compartments were completely mangled. Many bodies were crushed beyond recognition and could not be identified. Several families alleged that the remains of what they suspected to be bodies of their relatives were taken away by others and cremated. The identification process went on for several years and DNA tests were done.
The accident took place during a four-day strike called by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and it was suspected that the guerrillas, who were operating in the region at that time, removed a portion of the railway track that led to the derailment.
The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the kin of the deceased as well as a government job. Mamata Banerjee, who was then the Union railway minister, announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for these families while the state government announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh.
CBI officials, who did not want to be quoted, said Chaudhury was declared dead and people involved in the scam produced DNA samples claiming that it belonged to him and matched with members of his family. The matter came to light during a probe by the vigilance department of the South-Eastern Railway and the CBI filed a case on 9 June. CBI officials suspect the involvement of some railway employees.
CBI officials are trying to find out whose body was handed over to the Chaudhurys and who fudged the DNA reports.