NEW DELHI: As many as 270 prominent civil society members, including retired judges, bureaucrats, former ambassadors, a former RAW chief, a former NIA director and veterans, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday over the Odisha train tragedy, raising concerns over efforts to "undermine" India's national security and progress.
The signatories, in their letter to the Prime Minister, speculated that the triple train crash — which killed 288 and injured over a thousand people — was "deliberate" human interference and an "act of sabotage at the behest of terrorist outfits."
"We are greatly disturbed by the tragedy that has taken place in Balasore, Orissa involving our rapidly growing and modernizing Railways. Although the investigation is still underway, as per initial media reports, there are reasons to suspect that the cause of the derailment could be deliberate human interference, a clear case of sabotage at the behest of terrorist outfits," they have said in the letter.
"Some of us who have worked in counter-insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir and the north-East have faced such situations of sabotage on the smooth playing of railway networks. There were similarly well-planned attempts by terrorists to disrupt railway networks and eight Catastrophic accidents stopped only after proper deployment was made," they mentioned in the letter citing some incidents of railway tracks damaged in Jammu in 1990 and early 2000s.
Calling the Indian Railways "the lifeline of transport of goods and humans alike", the signatories alleged that forces inimical to the country's progress would like the network disrupted and create a catastrophe with massive human tragedy.
"Our view is that our entire Railway network is vulnerable and is particularly so in Eastern and North-eastern States, including the so-called 'Chicken's Neck'. It is imperative that illegal squatters, along railway tracks, including illegal immigrants be removed and stringent measures be taken to secure the safety of our railway tracks”, the letter stated.
The signatories include 14 former judges, 115 retired bureaucrats (11 ambassadors), and 141 veterans.
Some of them are former Rajasthan High Court chief justice Anil Deo Singh, former Gujarat High Court judge S M Soni, former Uttar Pradesh DGP Vikram Singh, former Maharashtra DGP Praveen Dixit, former J&K police chief S P Vaid and former CBI director Nageshwar Rao.
Former defence secretary and secretary general Rajya Sabha Yogendra Narain, former RAW chief Sanjeev Tripathi and former NIA director Yogesh Chander Modi are also among the signatories.