"They Had Knowledge": 3 Railways Men Arrested Over Odisha Train Tragedy

Odisha Train Accident: The arrested men -- Arun Kumar Mahanta, Md Amir Khan, and Pappu Kumar -- have been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and destruction of evidence.

Odisha Train Accident: Sources say the actions of these three resulted in the accident. (file)

New Delhi:

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday arrested three employees of the Indian Railways in connection with the horrific train accident in Odisha's Balasore last month that killed more than 293 people, and left over 1,000 injured. The central probe agency was probing the possibility of a criminal conspiracy into the accident.

The arrested men -- Senior Section Engineer (signal) Arun Kumar Mahanta, Section Engineer Mohammed Amir Khan and Technician Pappu Kumar -- have been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and destruction of evidence.

Sources say the investigation has revealed that the actions of these three lead to the accident, and they have been charged for culpable homicide not amounting to murder as "they had knowledge" that their actions would result in this tragedy but not the 'intent'.

If they had the intent, then they would have been charged for murder.

The Commissioner of Railways Safety (CRS) probing the accident had last week flagged human error of workers in the signalling department as responsible for it, dismissing the likelihood of a sabotage or a technical glitch or a machine fault.

The CRS had reportedly highlighted negligence on the part of a few ground officials who did not follow adequate safety procedures of inspection, particularly after changes were made in the design due to safety concerns three years ago.

The independent inquiry report submitted by the CRS to the Railway Board had said notwithstanding the lapses in signalling work, remedial actions could have been taken by the S&T staff if "repeated unusual behaviour" of switches connecting two parallel tracks were reported to them by the station manager of Bahanaga Bazar, the spot of the accident.

The report also said that there was a similar incident on May 16, 2022, at Bankranayabaz station in Kharagpur Division of South Eastern Railway, on account of wrong wiring and cable fault.

"Had corrective measures been taken, after this incident, to address the issue of wrong wiring, the accident at BNBR would not have taken place," the report said.

Referring to the CRS report, the Congress alleged on Tuesday that the Narendra Modi government has "thoroughly compromised" on basic issues of railway safety. It also said the "human error" exposed the failure of the management and the political leadership.

The General Manager of South Eastern Railway, Archana Joshi, was recently removed from her post almost a month after the three-train accident, and Anil Kumar Mishra took over the role.

Three trains - Kolkata-Chennai Coromandel Express, Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and a goods train - were involved in one of the worst railway tragedies in the country in the last two decades.