St Thomas Mount deaths in Chennai: Railway staff may face charges
CHENNAI: A few railway employees, including loco pilot, guard and station masters, who were on duty on July 24 when five passengers who travelled on the foot-board of a train were killed after hitting the concrete fence at St Thomas Mount station, are likely to be charged with causing death due to negligence.
On Monday, the Mambalam Government Railway Police inquiring into the incident have altered the first information report (FIR), invoking sections 304 (a) (causing death due to negligence not amounting to culpable homicide ), 279 (driving vehicle endangering the human life), 337 (causing hurt by act of endangering life) and 338 (causing grievous hurt to others negligently) of the Indian Penal Code. On July 24, the case was registered under IPC Section 174 (accidental death).
The alteration of the FIR was a fallout of the statement of witnesses, say police. “Many witnesses said were not warned about operating the train in fast line. We also suspect that the train may have exceeded the caution speed while entering into the platform 3 at St. Thomas Mount. So, the FIR has been altered to fix the accountability,” P K Ravi, Deputy Superintendent of Police, GRP, told Express.
On Saturday motorman Manoj Pazhavilla and guard Balaji, who were on duty in the Chennai — Tirumalpur suburban train on July 24, the day of the accident, were interrogated by the GRP. The police also recorded the statements of station masters of Guindy, St Thomas Mount and Beach stations. Railway officials have told the police that EMU trains are permitted to maintain 40 kmph speed while entering into the platform and subsequently decelerate it to zero. On July 24, the EMU was operated at the speed of 38 kmph, said police.
The police suspect that railway employees may have failed to take enough precautionary measures while diverting the train to the fast line during rush hour. “We were informed that the operational wing had to issue a mandatory warning to all staff including loco pilot, guard and station masters when they decided to run a train on fast line. We have asked the railway employees to submit the caution order issued at the Beach station,” added Ravi. The police have not named any railway employee in the FIR so far. “After an inquiry, accordingly we will fix accountability,” said the GRP police personnel.
In a nutshell:
- On July 24, case registered under section 174 (accidental death) of IPC.
- Mambalam GRP inquired with 35 witnesses and five railway employees.
- Police suspect negligence in safety precautions and overspeed while entering into the platform at Mount station.
- FIR altered, invoking section 304 (a) (causing death due to negligence), 279 (endangering the human life), 337 (causing hurt) and 338 (causing hurt negligently) of IPC.
- Southern Railway says caution order issued to operate on fast line and train was at the speed of 38 kmph while entering into the platform 3 at Mount.
- EMUs allowed to maintain 40 kmph while entering into platform claims Southern Railway.