Exactly a month after it lodged an FIR in the case, the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested three railway officials on Friday in connection with the train accident involving the Coromandel Express, Yashwantpur-Howrah Express and a goods train at Bahanaga Bazar in Odisha on June 2, in which over 290 passengers were killed.
Senior section engineer Arun Kumar Mahanta, section engineer Mohammad Amir Khan and technician Pappu Kumar were arrested by the agency under sections 304 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code, associated with to culpable homicide not amounting to murder and causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information regarding the incident to protect those involved.
According to sources in the agency, these three had the knowledge about the ‘unusual behaviour’ of the switching mechanism in the track changing system and the ‘mishap could have been averted’ had the error been communicated in a 'timely' manner to the concerned official -- the station manager of Bahanaga Bazar, where the accident had happened.
The action of the CBI comes following the report submitted last week by the Commissioner of Railways Safety (CRS) probing the accident which indicated “human error’ by the staff associated with the signaling and telecommunication department. The report however ruled out any sabotage or mechanical fault.
The 40-page CRS report categorically stated that the triple-train collision on June 2 took place owing to lapses in the signaling-circuit alteration carried out at the Bahanaga Bazaar station, which resulted in a wrong signal to the Coromandel Express. The report has highlighted negligence on the part of a few ground officials who did not follow standard safety procedures of keeping surveillance following changes in designs that were effected in the system.
The CBI on June 6 had lodged a case of causing death due to criminal negligence in connection with the recent train accident. According to the FIR filed by the CBI, unknown persons have been charged under several sections of the Indian Penal Code including criminal negligence, which led to people getting killed and endangering lives of passengers due to a rash act and relevant sections of the Railway Act for dereliction of duty. The CBI took over the case, which was initially registered at Balasore GRPS, on June 3 following the accident which happened allegedly due to human negligence.
The CBI in the FIR slapped IPC charges for causing hurt by act endangering life of personal safety (337 IPC), causing grievous hurt to any person by doing an act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life (338), causing death by negligence (304A), acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention (34 IPC) along with sections of the Railways Act for endangering lives of passengers by willful act or omission (153), rash or negligent act (154) and endangering life of government servants and people (175).