Maoist leader vows to 'punish' rogue rebels

A crane lifts a carriage in West Bengal, India (29 May 2010)
Image caption Police say they have "definite evidence" of Maoist involvement

A Maoist leader in India has said that they will "punish" any rogue rebels if they are found responsible for Friday's train crash which left 148 people dead.

Police say Maoist rebels sabotaged the track, causing the derailment of the Calcutta-Mumbai express in West Bengal.

Maoists have denied the charge. But top leader Comrade Akaash told the BBC they would carry out a "probe" to find out whether any rebels were involved.

Train services have resumed on the affected route, railway officials say.

Police say they have "definite evidence" that a local rebel Maoist militia were behind the disaster.

They say a group of Maoist rebels forced a railway worker at gunpoint to unfasten links on the rails.

The Maoists have denied responsibility for the incident and blamed the sabotage on the ruling Marxists.

But now they have indicated that they would punish leaders of the local militia if they were found to be behind the attack.

"Anybody, even if they are found close to us, will be punished if their involvement is proved beyond doubt," Comrade Akaash said.

Railway officials in eastern India have cancelled night trains in Maoist-affected areas after Friday's incident.

The restrictions would be in place until 0500 [1130GMT] on 3 June, the company said.

Report said other services were being rescheduled to ensure they travelled through Maoist areas of eastern India in daylight.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist insurgency as India's biggest internal security challenge.

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