• Wednesday, October 04, 2023


Indian Railways seeks CBI probe into Odisha train crash, hints at ‘sabotage’

The ministry said this hours after railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the “root cause” of the accident and the people behind the “criminal” act have been identified.

Restoration work underway at the train accident site in Balasore in the eastern Indian state of Odisha on Sunday, June 4, 2023. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

The Indian Railways on Sunday (4) sought an investigation by the country’s elite Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the horrific three-train crash in Balasore in the eastern state of Odisha, hours after railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the “root cause” of the accident and the people behind the “criminal” act have been identified.

Railway officials also indicated that a possible “sabotage” and tampering with the electronic interlocking system, which detects the presence of trains, caused the accident that led to deaths of over 270 people and injuries to more than 1,100, the PTI reported. The death toll was lowered to 275 from 288 reported earlier as some bodies were reportedly counted twice.

Meanwhile, several opposition parties demanded Vaishnaw’s resignation, with Indian National Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge seeking fixing of accountability from top to bottom.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit back, saying the track record of railway ministers when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power was nothing short of a disaster and asked the opposition to not politicise the issue.

“We have recommended a CBI probe into the triple train accident,” Vaishnaw told reporters in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, on Sunday evening.

Earlier in the day, he said the cause of the accident was related to electric point machine and electronic interlocking.

“The setting of the point machine was changed. How and why it was done will be revealed in the probe report.”

“The root cause of the horrifying incident has been identified… I do not want to go into details. Let the report come out. I will just say that the root cause and the people responsible for the criminal act have been identified,” the minister said.

Prime minister Narendra Modi visited the accident site on Saturday (4) and met the injured undergoing treatment in local hospitals.

Vaishnaw, who had been camping at the site of the train accident along with colleague Dharmendra Pradhan, said two railway tracks have been restored on the main trunk line connecting eastern and southern India and overhead electrification work has also started.

The ministers said restoration work was being carried out on a war footing and efforts were on to send people affected back home.

“By Tuesday we should be able to do it,” Pradhan said.

The accident affected both passenger and goods traffic between important industrial centres as the route is an important link between eastern and southern India.

While more than 120 trains got cancelled because of the accident, 56 were diverted, 10 short terminated, and 14 rescheduled for the period June 3-7.

One passenger train hit the derailed coaches of another train that reportedly hit a stationary goods train near Bahanaga Bazar railway station in Balasore.

(With PTI inputs)

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