Asking CBI to probe Balasore train accident is Modi govt.’s ‘headline management,’ alleges Congress

Congress also raised the issue of the 2016 Kanpur rail accident in which 150 lives were lost, and noted that the NIA has is yet to come out with its report

June 06, 2023 12:18 pm | Updated 08:35 pm IST - New Delhi

Workers remove debris from the railway tracks during the restoration work at the triple train mishap site where over 270 people died and more than 1000 were injured, near Bahanaga Bazar in Balasore district, on June 5, 2023.

Workers remove debris from the railway tracks during the restoration work at the triple train mishap site where over 270 people died and more than 1000 were injured, near Bahanaga Bazar in Balasore district, on June 5, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The decision to hand over the investigations of the Balasore train accident, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was part of the Narendra Modi government’s strategy of ‘headline management’ to divert attention from its own failures, the Congress alleged on June 6.

Addressing a press conference at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate asked why no accountability had been fixed even after 96 hours of the accident.

“How is it that there is no accountability, no responsibility. Instead of finding out what caused this grave accident in which almost 300 people died, the government is now spinning conspiracy theories. It is shifting focus from safety to all kinds of conspiracy theories like deliberate interference,” she told reporters.

Also read | CBI investigates crime, not rail accident, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge tells PM Modi in a four-page letter

At a time when the Railway Minister should resign by taking moral responsibility, new theories were being created to “divert” attention, she said, adding initial reports stated that the accident occurred due to interlocking and signal failure as well as low track maintenance.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh had tweeted, “Even before the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) has submitted his report on the Balasore train disaster, a CBI inquiry is announced. This is nothing but headlines management having failed to meet deadlines”.

2016 Kanpur accident

Mr. Ramesh also raised the issue of the 2016 Kanpur rail accident in which 150 lives were lost, and pointed out how National Investigation Agency (NIA) was yet to come out with its report.

Giving the chronology, he said, “1. Nov 20, 2016: Indore-Patna Express derails near Kanpur. Over 150 people lose their lives. 2. Jan 23, 2017: Then Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu writes to Union Home Minister asking for NIA probe into this accident. 3. Feb 24, 2017: PM says Kanpur train accident is a conspiracy. 4. Oct 21, 2018: Newspapers report NIA will not file any chargesheet in the derailment. 5: June 6, 2023: Still no official news on NIA final report on Kanpur derailment. Zero accountability!”

Mr. Shrinate said the NIA had not filed a chargesheet either in the 2016 rail accident nor in the one in Kuneru in Andhra Pradesh in which almost 40 people died. “The very basic question is why should premium agencies like the CBI and NIA be roped into this because this is not their area of expertise. Why should the CRS not probe this accident. Why is the CRS being restricted to probe only 8-10% rail accidents that have happened,” she asked.

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