Friday, May 01, 2009

Tattoo adds to train mystery


The train being removed from the accident site in Chennai on Wednesday. (AFP)
Chennai, April 30: A possible Naxalite link has emerged in yesterday’s collision involving a “hijacked” train after investigators came across a tattoo in Telugu on a body found at the crash site.

The tattoo on the arm was noticed during the post-mortem of the unidentified body, which investigators said may be that of the mystery driver who took over the suburban train and crashed into a stationary goods train yesterday morning. The other three persons killed in the accident have been identified.

“Only the second part of the name, Raju, was visible, the rest was smudged. We have sought the co-operation of Andhra police and informed our border districts,” additional director-general (crime) Archana Ramasundaram said.

While the tattoo itself doesn’t directly establish a rebel connection, the investigators are looking at the possibility because of a 2006 case that showed Naxalite operatives were using Chennai as a haven.

In September that year, an engineer, said to be from the rebel ranks, was arrested with his wife for allegedly designing grenade shells and having them produced in forging factories around Chennai. The case is going on.

Until the tattoo was spotted, the police, led by the facial features, thought the man found dead on the tracks was a north Indian.

“We suspect he could have jumped out of the driver’s cabin just before the train collided with the goods train. His identity is the key to the investigation,” said S.N. Seshasayee, DIG of the crime branch.

Police officers said the face of the person, though disfigured a little, was good enough for possible identification.

An important lead has emerged from an STD booth operator at the Central station, from where the train was “hijacked”.

The operator, shown photos of the unidentified dead man, claimed the person had been making calls from his booth for almost a month — always early in the morning. Yesterday, too, he had spoken to someone, in Hindi, the operator has claimed. The calls are being traced.

The police officials are also looking at footage of the closed-circuit cameras installed at the station. But the scan may not yield many clues as railway officials said there were no such camera near the motorman’s cabin.

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