Published On: Fri, Jul 7th, 2023

CBI arrests 3 Railway staff in Balasore train accident

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday took into custody three railway personnel in connection with the June 2 Balasore train accident, making its first arrests in the case.

The accident took place near the Bahanaga Bazar railway station on June 2

The central agency arrested Senior Section Engineer (signal) Arun Kumar Mahanta, Section Engineer Mohammed Amir Khan and Technician Pappu Kumar, all posted in Balasore district in Odisha.

The three have been arrested under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 201 (destruction of evidence), the officials said.

The CBI in its investigation found that the accused railway employees were also involved in the tampering of evidence. The arrested accused will be presented in the competent court and CBI will demand custody.

The Railway Board had also recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the accident following which on June 6, the CBI took over the investigation.

The CBI has already registered a First Information Report (FIR) in this matter. The agency got involved in the case after allegations of tampering with the electronic interlocking system were made after the accident.

The accident, one of the deadliest train accidents in India’s history, involved the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express from Shalimar, the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and a stationary goods train. The accident took place near the Bahanaga Bazar railway station on June 2, claiming 291 lives and injured over 1000.

A high-level inquiry into the tragedy by the Commissioner of Railways Safety (CRS) found “wrong signalling” to be the main reason for the accident and dismissed previous reports of sabotage or a technical glitch.

The CRS, which comes under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, is the government body that looks into railway safety and investigates incidents. The inquiry panel also flagged “lapses at multiple levels” in the signalling and telecommunication (S&T) department. The report also said the tragedy could have been averted if past red flags were reported.

The report further said the station manager of Bahanaga Bazar should have reported the “repeated unusual behaviour” of switches connecting two parallel tracks to the S&T department, following which remedial action could have been taken.

The CRS report also suggested that the non-supply of a station-specific approved circuit diagram for the works to replace the electric lifting barrier at a level crossing gate 94 at Bahanaga Bazar station was a “wrong step that led to wrong wiring”, PTI reported.

The inquiry report also urged the Railways to review the system of disaster response in the zonal railways, saying the initial response to such a tragedy should be faster.

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