Following the triple train crash in Odisha’s Balasore district on June 2, former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi was the first to mention the likelihood of sabotage. Hours after the incident he told News 18 that the “possibility of sabotage behind the accident cannot be ruled out”.
The crash, believed to be one of the worst in nature and in terms of casualties, killed 288 passengers and injured around 900. The Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, and a goods train were involved in the accident.
Following the preliminary investigation and findings of the engineers, the ministry handed over the case to the CBI yesterday. This is the third time in the past 10 years that a train accident case will be probed by a central investigation agency. In 2010, the CBI investigated the Jnaneswari crash, and six years later the NIA probed the Kanpur train accident.
Speaking with News18, Trivedi said, “The inputs and understanding I have about the interlocking system, its functioning, and what happened in the incident, I felt that there was a serious manipulation which led the Coromandel Express on the loop line from the main track. Now with more findings coming up, I am more than 100% sure that this crash was caused by sabotage and not a mere accident.”
The signal was green, and it is impossible for the interlocking system to malfunction like this, he said. “In a railway system, so many coincidences do not happen. If an interlocking system at any point fails or goes haywire, there is another system that comes into force. It is called ‘fail-safe’. If fail-safe gets activated, then all signals on the specific track turn red, and the train won’t move,” the BJP leader said.
Trivedi called the series of incidents that happened around 7 pm on Friday on the tracks near Bahanaga Bazar a “meticulous conspiracy”. He said, “To me, it seems like extensive planning and calculation leading to such incidents happening one after another in a matter of a few seconds.”
The goods train loaded with iron-ore standing like a rock, and a passenger train hitting it on a loop line is not a case of usual signal failure or derailment, the former railway minister added.
“We must understand that a loco pilot can only press a brake or accelerate the train speed depending on the signals. The loco pilot cannot change track or divert trains. So, the train changed track and went on the loop line from the main line on its own after the system was manipulated from the inside. Had it been a simple case of signal failure or malfunctioning of the interlocking system, the train could never change track so smoothly. Because, with system failure, the tracks get blocked automatically and signals turn red,” he explained.
Trivedi also rubbished the theories given by opposition politicians, who called the railways an “ill-maintained system” and questioned the non-availability of the anti-collision Kavach mechanism. He said, “West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also experienced such an incident of sabotage when Jnaneswari Express rammed into a derailed goods train in West Midnapore district in 2010. She handed over the investigation to the CBI and asked the CPI(M) not to indulge in politics. However, she is now being forgetful and repeating similar things CPI(M) did then.”