Midnapore (WB), Feb 18: The trial of 20 accused in the Jnaneswari Express disaster, which claimed the lives of 148 people, began on Monday in a local court here with the driver and guard of the ill-fated train appearing as witnesses. Driver Bibhoy Kumar Das and Guard Shribas Chandra Ghosh appeared as witnesses in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Partha Pratim Das.
The mishap was one of the worst in the country. A total of 148 passengers were killed when 13 coaches of the Mumbai-bound train had jumped the tracks between Khemasuli and Sardiha stations in West Midnapore district due to sabotage. An oncoming goods train then rammed into the derailed coaches in the early hours of May 28, 2010. Charges were framed on December 19 last year under various sections of the IPC, including murder, and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Railways Act.
The accused include Joydeb Mahato, Asit Mahato and Bapi Mahato, who are part of Maoist-backed People's Committee against Police Atrocities, sources said. No charges were framed by the special court against one of the arrested accused as he is a minor. Two others are still absconding, they said. The CBI had taken over the investigation in the case in June 2010.