The controversy over the death of two women and a girl who were hit by a tower wagon near village Mahuakheda has resurfaced with details of an RTI revealing that the wagon was at a far higher speed than the permissible limit at the time of the incident.
On July 25, two women Preeti and Bhuri along with their children were crossing railway track to reach their village, when a tower wagon hit them. The wagon was on its way to Diwanganj railway station for the maintenance of an overhead electricity (OHE) line failure. In the accident, two women and a child had died while one child had survived.
After the tragedy, the administration of Bhopal rail division had constituted a three-member committee to probe into the matter. In its report, the committee stated that the wagon — which was on a down-track from Habibganj Railway station — was shifted to up-track at Sukhi Sewania Railway Station, as the power supply of down-track's OHE was disrupted and the wagon was to reach Diwanganj to check the power disruption. The committee had given a clean chit to the wagon driver, stating that he was following all the rules.
According to rules, if a tower wagon is run up-track (opposite track) in case of an emergency, the maximum speed of the wagon should be 25 km/hr and minimum speed should be 8km/hr.
However, documents available with HT suggest that tower wagon's at the time of accident was about 60 km/hr. The wagon, which left Sukhi Sewania Railway Station at 2.25pm, passed through Bhadbhada Railway station at 2.33pm. The wagon, thereby, covered a distance of 8 km in eight minutes, making it clear that its speed just before the incident was 60 km/hr. The incident had taken place just 2 km ahead of Bhadbhada Railway Station on Diwanganj route, the documents reveal.
In its report, the committee has also stated that there was a right curve at the site of the incident and it was raining heavily when women along with their children came under tower wagon. However, according to rules, in these circumstances, the speed of wagon, when it runs on up-track, should not be more than 8 km/hr.
The committee, it seems, in a smart move avoided raising the issue of speed of tower wagon in its report, while according to rule, the committee should have first checked up the speed of the wagon through the speedometer inbuilt in the tower wagon before proceeding to investigate other issues.
Ironically, the committee recommended registration of a case under Section 147 of the Railway Act against deceased women and their children and it was duly followed. When divisional railway manager (DRM), Bhopal, Rajeev Chaudhary, was asked about the report and RTI contradicting its findings, he said "I don't remember any such report. Will have to check."
Sonu Malviya, husband of one of the deceased, said that the railway authorities were trying to shield their employees. "The railway authorities responsible are shielding their men. I approached DRM many times and demanded a fair probe, but he refused to accept my plea. If they have booked my wife and relatives under Railway Act as they were illegally crossing the railway track, action should also be taken against responsible railway employees."