Two days after the Indore-Patna Express derailed at Pukhrayan in Kanpur Dehat, the Railways continued its investigation into the mishap, even as train services resumed on the Jhansi-Kanpur section after the damaged tracks were replaced.
The death toll in Sunday’s mishap rose to 150, making it the deadliest train accident in the last 17 years with four more persons, including a 12-year-old boy, succumbing to their injuries. At least 200 have been injured.
Sources said the probe team was also looking into allegations that the two loco pilots — Janak Sharma and Pramesh Purohit — were drunk at the time of the accident. Sharma, Purohit and train guard Ajay Srivastava appeared before the inquiry panel headed by rail safety (eastern railways) commissioner PK Acharya on Tuesday to record their statements. “Blood samples of the pilots were taken and sent for medical examination. The report hasn’t come yet,” said Acharya.
The panel summoned 41 railway employees of different departments in Jhansi railway division for their written statement. Some people, mostly passengers, also came to record their statements.
The panel will record statements of people and railway personnel for two days but the period can be extended. The inquiry report will be submitted within a month to the Railways ministry.
Railway men mostly stuck to the version that there was no problem with the train. Gate man Ravindra Paswan, who was at gate no 197 at the time of the mishap, said in his deposition before the panel that the train was moving at normal speed and there was no issue with it.
However, Ishwar Dass, another railway employee, said when the train passed his point at 3.01am, it left the overhead wires dangling, indicating that it was running at high speed. Till now, the department has maintained that fracture in track and application of emergency brakes was responsible for the derailment.
In the wake of the mishap, the railways transferred Jhansi divisional railway manager (DRM) Santosh Agarwal to Ranchi and suspended five officials, including senior divisional mechanical engineer Navaid Talib. The suspended employees are MK Mishra, Ishwar Das, Sushil Kumar Gupta and Ambika Prasad Ojha.
“It was very necessary to take action to fix responsibility. Suspension and transfer order was issued pending inquiry being conducted by the Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS),” said a senior Railway Ministry official.
(With agency inputs)