05/28/2010, 00.00
INDIA
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Train derailed in West Bengal: At least 65 dead. Maoists suspected

by Nirmala Carvalho
At least 200 injured, some still trapped in wreckage. The Church of Bengal condemns violence and calls on the Maoists and government to keep dialogue open. The Maoists claim to be defenders of the peasants and ethnic minorities. But according to Mgr. D'Souza, the poorest are the victims of violence. Maoist Resistance - present in 20 of the 28 Indian states - has launched a "black week" to counter the government's campaign against terrorism.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - A high-speed train derailed in north-eastern India overnight and collided with a freight train, killing at least 65 people. There are also hundreds of wounded. Some are still trapped in the coaches and rescue teams are unable to release them because of the crumpled metal of the carriages.

Government and people suspect that the accident is the result of a Maoist attack, who have a strong presence in the area. The Gyaneshwari Express train was travelling from Kolkata  to Mumbai. The disaster occurred at 1 .30 a.m in the district of West Midnapore (West Bengal), between the stations of Khemasoli and Sardiya.

The Maoists control large areas in India, especially rural areas that have benefited little from the great economic development that is transforming the country. According to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Maoist rebellion is the greatest threat to internal security in India. Months ago the government has launched a vast operation against Maoist guerrillas. This operation, called "Green Hunt" - because it takes place mainly in the Jungle - has led to some police victories, but also to hundreds of deaths, victims of attacks.

The Maoists had promised to launch a "black week" today to condemn the "atrocities against villages” and to stop the armed campaign against them.

In a statement to AsiaNews, Mgr. Thomas D'Souza, secretary of the Bishops' Conference of Bengal, said that "the Church condemns all violence and offers prayers and condolences to the families of victims who were killed in the incident."

Questioned on whether the incident is a Maoist attack, the bishop said: "Violence must be condemned in all forms. Our desire is that all parties come to the dialogue, although there is still a long way to go. "

"This issue [the Maoist resistance-ed] is long standing, but certainly, this is not the way – by blowing up railway tracts- violence can never ever be condoned- and in this entire process, it is always the poor who are the worst affected and suffer the most".

It is estimated that they are between 10 and 20 thousand guerrillas, who claim their armed struggle is in defence of landless peasants and local ethnic minorities. At least 20 of the 28 Indian states have pockets of Maoist resistance. Last year the Maoists caused at least 600 deaths. Since 2009 the government has branded them as "terrorists."  

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