Suresh Prabhu asks Rajnath Singh for NIA probe into recent train accidents
NEW DELHI: A day after Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu wrote to Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking National Investigation Agency (NIA) probes into the recent train derailments, Railway Board Member (Traffic) Mohammed Jamshed said on Wednesday 45 derailments in the current fiscal could have been “sabotage” cases. Jamshed while admitting that the incidents of derailments have increased in the financial year of 2016-2017 as compared to last year, further stated that “there has been a marked increase in derailments in recent weeks and the sabotage angle cannot be ruled out. Fish plates on tracks have been found to be removed and large pieces of rail have been placed at certain locations”, Jamshed said.
The Railways has suffered an estimated loss of Rs 900 crore in freight and passenger revenues on account of factors such as derailments, public agitation (on tracks), or postponements/cancellations because of foggy weather, Jamshed said.
He also said that safety campaigns and extensive monitoring is being done to avoid any further tragedies and intensive inspections have also been launched. He also added that inputs from teams Japanese and Korean teams are being taken.
In his letter of January 23, the Railway Minister had listed six incidents of “possible criminal interference by outsiders”, mentioning the Hirakhand Express derailment in Andhra Pradesh and the incident involving the Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur.
In a post on the micro-blogging site Twitter, Prabhu has “requested all to be extra vigilant to foil nefarious designs of these anti-people elements trying to subvert system”. He has also directed Railway Security personnel to be careful and sought cooperation of the public to give information of any unusual activities by anti-national elements near stations to law enforcement agencies.
Concerned by recent cases of train derailments, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu wrote to Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking an NIA probe into the alleged possibilities of rail track sabotage by “outsiders”, officials said on Wednesday.
According to a railway ministry official, Prabhu wrote to Singh on Tuesday requesting him to order a detailed probe by National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the recent cases of train accidents.
An other senior railway official requesting anonymity told that Prabhu “listed six recent incidents hinting of possibility of the criminal interference by some outsiders”. The official also further stated that “Rail network in the Sub-continent region comprises of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh which belongs to the same age. However accidents are more frequent only in India than that Pakistan and Bangladesh. This clearly states something fishy in the entire sequences; so how can one ascribed the such a ghastly accidents to ageing of Railway tracks or neglect of Railway employees? reiterating all accidents to sabotage angle by the anti-national elements.
The official further said, the Railway Minister also mentioned the recent Hirakhand Express which derailed near Kuneru station in Andhra Pradesh, in which at least 41 persons died and over 60 injured on January 22.
“The minister mentioned about the two goods train derailment earlier this month, instance of a cooker bomb at Ghorasahan station, detection of deep cuts on tracks near Kanpur on January 1 and the obstruction on tracks on a rail bridge between Sathajagat and Dalsinghsarai railway stations near Samastipur in Bihar,” the official added.
In the last four months, three major train accidents occurred due to derailment.
On November 20, 2016, at least 149 people were killed and over 300 injured when 14 coaches of the Patna-Indore derailed near Pukhrayan, 50 km from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.
In another incident, on December 28, at least two people were killed when the 15 coaches of the Sealdah-Ajmer express derailed near Rura station in Kanpur.
The senior official also highlighted concerted efforts being made by railways to make train operations more safe. “Gangmen and RPF personnel are now jointly carrying out night patrolling. Railway officials are asked to be present in each train to examine and ensure safety of passengers and train movement,” he said, adding that a month-long safety drive was also launched from January 15.