Beginning his probe into the West Bengal train tragedy, a senior railway official Wednesday interrogated the guard of the Uttar Banga Express and the two drivers of the ill-fated Vananchal Express at Sainthia station in Birbhum district.
A total of 39 railway employees, including those who were posted at Gadadharpur and Sainthia stations, two drivers of Vananchal express, guard of the Uttar Banga Express and other staff deployed in the two trains July 19, presented themselves before the probe team.
Commissioner of Railway Safety (Eastern Zone) R.P. Yadav arrived at Sainthia along with other members of the probe team in the morning.
"During interrogation, the Uttar Banga Express guard, Somnath Sengupta, confessed that he had applied the brake but it did not work. He also contacted the two drivers on their walkie-talkies but they did not respond to his call," said a senior railway official, who is also a member of the probe team.
He added, "The drivers of the ill-fated Vananchal Express also admitted that the on-duty deputy station master gave the signal at 1.57 a.m. but the guard did not give us the signal. So the train overstayed there at the station."
Somnath Sengupta, who was virtually kept in hiding by the railway authorities since the incident, came before mediapersons at Sainthia station and said, "I applied the emergency brakes but it did not work and even the drivers of the train did not respond to my call on their walkie-talkies."
When contacted Yadav said, "We have only talked to the drivers and the guard. They have given their statements and it is not possible for us to say something without completing the probe."
He added that all the employees present in the two trains and at Gadadharpur and Sainthia stations would be interrogated later.
"A discussion session was held in the evening where all the employees were asked to make statements to the probe team members," said Yadav.