The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested three railway officials on Friday in connection with the train mishap that occurred at Bahanaga Bazar Railway Station in Balasore, Odisha. The mishap involved the Coromandel Express, Yashwantpur-Howrah Express, and a Goods train on June 2, 2023.
The arrested officials have been identified as Arun Kumar Mahanta, a former Senior Sectional Engineer (Signal) in Balasore; Mohammed Amir Khan, a Sectional Engineer (Signal) and technician Pappu Kumar, who worked in Balasore. They have been charged under Sections 304 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 153 of the Railways Act, 1989.
The CBI took over the investigation following a request from the Ministry of Railways, with consent from the Odisha Government and the necessary orders from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Government of India. The case was initially registered at Balasore GRPS, District Cuttack, Odisha, on June 3, 2023.
According to sources, the arrested accused attempted to destroy evidence in order to evade detection of their involvement in the mishap. The CBI, along with forensic experts, visited the collision site to collect evidence and recorded statements from officials involved. They also examined the signalling system to determine whether the collision was caused by foul play, technical glitches, or human error.
Earlier Commission of Railway Safety also conducted an inquiry into the incident and found that the rear collision occurred due to "lapses in the signalling-circuit-alteration" at a north signal cabin of Bahanaga Bazar railway station. Alleged irregularities related to the execution of signalling work and the replacement of the electric lifting barrier at level crossing gate 94 were identified where accident was happened.
"During investigation it was discovered that a labelling mistake by the ground staff had gone unnoticed since 2018. During wiring work on the control operation of the Electric Lifting Barrier (ELB), the S&T staff incorrectly rewired the new ELB connection, leading to the disconnection of the feed from the accident site. This resulted in the green signal indication becoming disassociated from the ground status. Various other irregularities were also detected during the investigation," said source.
However no any railway officials wants to speak about the arrest made by CBI on Friday, but sources said that arreste of these three railway officials sent a strong message.
"The arrests have sent shockwaves through the railway fraternity and have been hailed as a powerful message against negligence and lapses in maintaining safety standards within the Indian railway system," said a retired railway officials.
"The message is clear, any negligence or lapse in ensuring passenger safety will not be tolerated, and those responsible will face the full force of the law including jail in future," he said adding that arrest of these three railway officials has generated a sense of accountability within the entire railway fraternity. It serves as a stern reminder that the lives of passengers should always be paramount and that every effort must be made to maintain the highest safety standards.