Preliminary investigations suggest the two drivers of the Uttarbanga Express that collided with Vananchal Express at Sainthia station in West Bengal may have had spiked tea that prevented them from acting to avert the accident that killed 61 people on Monday, according to a report on Telegraph India.
Driver Madhab Chandra Dey and his assistant Nirmal Kumar Mandal had taken tea during their two-minute stopover at Gadadharpur station, 7.5 km from Sainthia, senior officials said.
However, only a viscera report of the drivers can establish drugging which will take as many as 15 days to come out, the report said.
Railway bosses had on Tuesday said there was “something wrong” with the drivers: they had sped along at 80-90kmph despite Sainthia being a scheduled stop, overshot the signal, eschewed the emergency brakes and not even tried to jump off to save themselves.
Speaking to the Telegrah in Malda, the wife of Somnath Sengupta, the injured Uttar Banga guard, said that when the train failed to slow down as it approached Sainthia yesterday, Sengupta had tried to speak to the drivers over the walkie-talkie. But one of them couldn’t speak at all while the other was groaning. This lends some credence to the drug theory.
The spiked tea thoery could also suggest a possibility that the tea was meant for passengers but reached the drivers by mistake. There are several such gangs operating in eastern India where they drug the train passengers with spiked beverages and rob them, and it’s possible that Dey and Mandal bought tea from one of such gangs.
The railway board has already issued a directive for drivers and guards, asking them not to buy or accept any beverages, not even tea or coffee, from any vendor or stranger while on duty.