The suspicion over sabotage as a possible reason for the spate of recent train derailments has gained currency with Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating the Kanpur train accident was a “conspiracy”. Amid a growing number of derailments, railways has earlier cited “outside interference” as the possible reason in more than 40 such cases in the recent past. Suspecting the possibility of sabotage in the recent spate of train derailments, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has written last month to Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking a detailed probe by the National Investigating Agency into the incidents.
On November 20, 2016, 14 coaches of the Indore–Patna Express derailed near Kanpur claiming 150 lives and more than 100 injuries. It was the deadliest train accident in the country since 1999, when the Gaisal train disaster claimed 290 lives.
“The Kanpur rail accident, in which hundreds of people were killed was a conspiracy and the conspirators carried it out sitting across the border… Gonda is adjoining Nepal,” Modi said in an election rally at Gonda yesterday. Nepalese national Shamshul Hoda, an alleged ISI agent and the prime suspect in the Kanpur train tragedy, was arrested on February 7 in Kathmandu after he was deported from Dubai, the Nepal police had said.
After the November accident, at least 62 passengers were injured on December 28 when 15 coaches of the Sealdah-Ajmer Express derailed while the train was crossing a bridge near the Rura railway station in Kanpur rural district.
Citing some recent incidents, Railway Ministry sources said “outside interference was found” in some cases near Kanpur, Mumbai, Hajipur and other areas where fish plates were removed and a large rail piece was placed on the track. While inquiry under the Railway Safety Commissioner is underway in these cases, other agencies are also looking into these.
Besides, disruptions due to derailments, agitations and other operational reasons like adverse weather conditions have cost railways about Rs 800 crore. “We lost about Rs 700 crore in the freight sector alone due to disruptions. In the passenger segment, the loss is about Rs 100 crore as the punctuality of about 3,500 trains was affected,” Railway Board Member (Traffic) Mohd Jamshed has said.
Jamshed also highlighted concerted efforts being made by railways to make train operations more safe.
“Gangmen and RPF personnel will now jointly carry out night patrolling. Railway officials are asked to be present in each train to examine and ensure safety of passengers and train movement,” he said.