Balasore train accident: Chargesheet against three railway officials for culpable homicide, destruction of evidence

New Delhi:The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday filed a charge sheet against three railway officials arrested in connection with the June 2 Balasore train accident case for alleged culpable homicide not amounting to murder and destruction of evidence. The officers provided this information.

The CBI had arrested three Senior Section Engineer (Signal) Arun Kumar Mahanta, Senior Section Engineer Amir Khan and Technician Pappu Kumar, posted in Odisha’s Balasore district, on July 7 in connection with the investigation into the train accident. 296 people were killed in the accident and more than 1,200 were injured.

The accident took place on June 2 when the Coromandel Express rammed into a stationary goods train at Bahanga Bazar station in Balasore district, causing some of its derailed coaches to fall on the adjacent tracks and the passing Yesvantpur-Howrah Express. collided.

In its charge sheet filed before the special CBI court in Bhubaneswar, the probe agency has booked the accused under sections 304 Part-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), section 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code and section 34 of the Railways Act. 153 (by willful omission to endanger the safety of railway passengers).

The CBI alleged that the accused was directly responsible for the efficient maintenance of signal and telecommunication assets of Bahanaga Bazar Railway Station, the site of the incident.

According to officials, the CBI has alleged that the repair work at level crossing gate number 94 near Bahanaga Bazar station was done by Mahant using the circuit diagram of LC gate number 79.

He said that it was the duty of the accused to ensure that the existing signals and ‘interlocking installations’ are tested, repaired and altered as per the approved plan and instructions, but he did not do so. The Central Investigation Agency had taken over the investigation from the Odisha Police.

A high-level railway inquiry found “wrong signalling” to be the main cause of the accident and also pointed to “lapses at multiple levels” in the Signaling and Telecommunications Department, but indicated that if previous warning signals were not followed. Had the information been given, the tragedy could have been avoided. The report states that a team of field supervisors modified the wiring diagram, but failed to replicate it.

The report also states that on May 16, 2022, a similar incident took place at Bankarnayabaz station of Kharagpur division of South Eastern Railway due to wrong wiring and cable fault. It added, “Had corrective measures been taken after the incident to address the issue of wrong wiring, the Bahanga market accident would not have happened.”

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