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Audio clip on ‘negligence’ to be scanned, Kovind condoles Utkal Express deaths

Commissioner of Railway Safety Shailesh Kumar Pathak will begin his probe on Monday and the clip’s veracity will be probed.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2017 20:53 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Utkal Express,Utkal Express derailment,Kalinga Utkal Express
Restoration work continued on Sunday after the Utkal Express derailed in Khatauli on Saturday evening. (Chahat Ram / HT photo)

An audio clip of a purported conversation between a railway employee and a mediaperson, in which the official claimed that “negligence” led to Saturday’s tragedy in Khatauli, would be looked into by a team probing the derailment, a top railway ministry official said on Sunday.

Md Jamshed, member traffic, Railways, said the inquiry team probing the derailment, in which 22 passengers were killed, would look into the 15-minute audio clip.

The clip has since gone viral.

In the clip, the railway staff apparently posted at a crossing near the accident site in Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar claimed that “poor patrolling” on the track where maintenance work was underway was one of the reasons behind the tragedy.

“Welding work was underway at a section of the railway track... but the workers did not fix the block of the track and left it loose. Gates near the crossing were closed. A piece (of the track) was not fixed and when the Utkal Express arrived, 14 of its coaches got derailed,” he is heard saying.

“Neither the line, on which the work was under way, was fixed nor they had put any flag or a signboard (as a stop signal). The accident occurred due to negligence. It seems all (employees concerned) will be suspended.”

He also talks about how the workers had left some equipment between the tracks after finishing their work.

“At least, they could have removed the machine and put a red flag there, perhaps the tragedy could have been averted,” the staffer, presumably a gateman, is heard saying.

Commissioner of Railway Safety Shailesh Kumar Pathak is going to begin his probe on Monday and the clip’s veracity will be probed, officials said.

“We have got the clip from the media and heard it. In the clip, it sounds like a conversation between a railway worker and a mediaperson. In it, the worker is saying that the work was going on on the track and it was being done negligently. We are verifying its authenticity.

“In fact, during the commissioner’s inquiry, the common people will be asked to provide any information that they have on the accident,” Jamshed said here earlier in the day.

President Kovind condoles loss of lives

President Ram Nath Kovind has written to Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik, expressing condolences over the lives lost in the Utkal Express derailment.

“I am sad to learn about the derailment of the Puri- Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express at Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, as a result of which a number of persons lost their lives and others sustained injuries,” said a statement by the Raj Bhawan in Lucknow, citing the President’s letter.

“I understand both the state government and the railway authorities are providing all possible assistance to the bereaved families as well as the best of medical attention to the injured. Please convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to all the injured persons,” the letter read.

First Published: Aug 20, 2017 20:37 IST