Crash of an Indian train: Police open a case for criminal negligence
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
In response to criticism that the government was attempting to shift responsibility for the disaster, police in the Indian state of Odisha have filed a criminal case for “death by negligence” in connection with the train accident on Friday that resulted in the deaths of 275 people.
The police report stated that “culpability of specific railway employees has not been ascertained, which will be unearthed during the investigation” but did not name any specific individuals as being responsible.
On Friday evening, a signal failure was blamed for the Coromandel Express train switching tracks from the main line to the loop line, where a stationary freight train carrying heavy iron ore was.
The force of the collision caused carriages from the express, which were carrying over 1,200 passengers, to flip onto the opposite tracks. This caused the Howrah superfast express train, which was approaching, to be derailed, which had devastating effects.
For two days, hundreds of volunteers and the national disaster response force participated in a massive rescue effort to extract survivors and bodies from the rubble. Since then, relatives have had difficulty locating the severely disfigured bodies of their loved ones. Over a hundred bodies have not yet been identified.
With over 300 of the 1,175 injured still being treated in hospitals, some of whom were in critical condition, there were concerns that the death toll could continue to rise.
By Monday, passenger and freight trains had resumed service along the collision site, one of India’s oldest and busiest lines. Netting was put over the damaged carriages that were still lying by the tracks to keep passengers from seeing them.
According to the railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and members of the railway board, the problem with the track management system, which is supposed to automatically coordinate and control the signals for approaching trains and direct them to empty tracks, is the primary focus of the investigation.
On Friday, it appeared as though this automatic “interlocking system” had broken down, causing the Coromandel Express train to descend the loop track. Vaishnaw, who is receiving calls for his resignation, stated that the “root cause and the people responsible for the criminal act” had been identified; however, he declined to specify whether the failure was the result of a technical flaw, human error, or sabotage.
Across India’s entire 40,000-mile network, this system is in use. The railway board issued an extensive inspection of the signaling system on Monday, requiring safety reports from each of the nation’s 19 zones by the following week.
Additionally, the government requested that the central bureau of investigation (CBI), a government agency, initiate a criminal investigation into the collision, indicating the possibility of arrests. A CBI group headed out to the site on Monday night, looking to lay out in the event that any lawbreaker altering was engaged with the sign disappointment.
When the prime minister, Narendra Modi, paid a visit to the location on Saturday, he promised that “those found guilty will be severely punished.”
Additionally, an investigation has been launched by the commissioner of railway safety, and a report is anticipated within two weeks. On Tuesday, the chairman of the railway board will discuss the latest developments in the disaster investigation with the prime minister and other high-ranking officials.
Political adversaries blamed the Modi government for attempting to move center around to an examination concerning criminal carelessness by an individual, as opposed to bearing liability regarding the calamity and looking at endemic security issues on the rail route organization.