In a major train mishap at least four people were killed and scores of others injured after seven bogies of the 13009 Howrah-Dehradun Doon Express derailed near Mahrawa railway station in Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday. The rescue operation was on till last reports came.
The Dehradun bound train coming from Howrah was about to reach Varanasi in the next 20 minutes when the mishap took place. Five sleeper and two general compartments were derailed in the accident that took place at around 1:20 pm.
Exact reason of the derailment could not be ascertained yet, as the railway officials are busy in rescue operation. The train was to reach Lucknow at 6 pm.
Confirming four deaths Jaunpur DM Balkar Singh told HT over phone "We have recued four bodies till now. I do not think that death count may increase."
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee hinted at a possible sabotage in the Doon Express disaster in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, which killed four passengers.
“The incident happened when a Bharat bandh was in force. I am reminded of the Gyaneswari (Express) incident. It has to be examined whether it was an incident or accident,” said Mamata at the state secretariat on Thursday afternoon.
The Gyaneswari Express accident was the worst sabotage in the history of Indian railways when, on May 28, 2010 three bogies of the Mumbai-bound train derailed in West Midnapore and moved on to the tracks next to it and a goods train coming from the opposite direction ploughed through the bogies killing 148 passengers.
Subsequent investigations by the CBI have accused several members of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities of plotting the sabotage.
“The railways have started an enquiry. The truth would be revealed after the report comes,” said Mamata on Thursday referring to the Doon Express tragedy.
Significantly, it was the Bengal chief minister who briefed the media about the railway accident and not the railway minister Mukul Roy. Mamata was the railway minister when the Gyaneswari Express sabotage took place on a dark night near a West Midnapore station called Sardiha.
Within a couple of hours of the accident in UP, Mamata held the press conference where she hinted at the conspiracy theory.
The Bengal chief minister also promised all help to the families of victims of the accident and said that the state government has opened a helpline at the state secretariat to coordinate the movement of the families of victims who may want to visit the site.
"We have opened a helpline at Writers' (the state secretariat) to offer all sorts of help to the families of the victims of the accident. Jayanta Saha, our man who coordinates movement would be on duty to ensure help to the families of the victims," she said.
She also said Mukul Roy, railway minister, woule be visitng the accident site. “Subrata and Partha (Chatterjee, industry minister of West Bengal) would go too." (Mamata did not clarify wther it was panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee or south Kolkata MP Subrata Bakshi).
"It is difficult to tell from the passenger list how many of them were Bengalis. If there is a Singh on the list he may be from this state, Bihar, UP and other states also. There are many Bengalis in Dhanbad also. We should not be communal," Mamata added.
People living near the accident site were first to reach the spot to rescue people from the derailed boogies.
According to reports, soon after the Doon Express left the Jaunpur railway station, it skidded off the track near the Mahrawa railway station about 38 km from Jaunpur. The exact reason of the accident was yet to be ascertained.
A rescue team of medical experts rushed to the spot from the Jaunpur railway station. Along with the district magistrate, senior police officials have also rushed to the spot. An accident relief car (ACR) has left for the accident site from Varanasi railway station.
Divisional Railway Managar, NER, Lucknow Jagdip Rai is also expected to reach the spot. The railway board in Delhi has also announced to sent a team to the spot. Raiwlay Minister Mukul Roy is expected to reach the spot by 6 pm.
"A team from headed by DRM NR, Lucknow Jagdip Rai has already left for the spot," a Northern Raiwlay official confirmed. The ADG Railways Gurdarshan Singh said that rescue operation was on and " we fear more bodies trapped inside the bogies.
“It was at around 1.20 pm, that the Doon Express derailed near Mahrawa railway station. It was only after half an hour that some local officials reached the accident site but could not offer any help to the victims,” Rashid Ahmad, an eye witness told HT.
Initially, it was only locals who rescued passengers who were trapped in the derailed bogies, he added.
‘Track deformity may be the cause’
Flaws in the Railways’ policy of outsourcing critical operational work such as track maintenance, besides its inability to fill up safety related posts, became more pronounced after Thursday’s accident of the Howrah-Dehradoon Express — where six persons died and 15 were injured.
“Track deformity” (expansion of track because of excessive heat) might have caused the mishap, railway board member (Engg) AP Mishra said.
Gangmen, keymen and pointsmen are among the safety category posts that have traditionally held the responsibility of manually inspecting track deformities or rail fractures.
For a few years now, the Railways has been unable to fill up 1.5 lakh safety category posts. As many as 72,000 gangmen posts lie vacant. In the Jaunpur section, nearly 2,000 gangmen posts are lying vacant, sources said.