Bihar Govt., Railways locked in battle over mishaps

PATNA JUNE 26. Yet again the Bihar Government and the Union Railway Ministry are locked in a battle over the cause of an accident. Neither of the two seem to tire, exemplifying indefatigable stamina in publicising their views on each occasion.

Such occasions, of course, repeat themselves at such sickening frequency that one loses count of it. But in the maze of things what is lost is the alarming increase in the number of train accidents in the State.

The politicisation of accidents was all too glaring over the cause of derailment of the Rajdhani Express at Rafiganj in which over 125 people died. Then too they fought on expected lines with the railways claiming sabotage as the cause of the tragedy while the state government sought to put the blame on poor maintenance.

Once again it is no different regarding the derailment of the super fast Magadh Express in Buxar district on June 1 last in which one person was killed and about a dozen and half were injured. In less than four weeks the Commissioner for Railway Safety, Eastern Zone, Mahesh Chand, who had probed the Rafiganj accident as well, came out with his preliminary finding that conspiracy and sabotage had led to the train's derailment.

And surprisingly, as in case of the Rafiganj accident, Mr. Chand felt free to issue a press release about his enquiry into the Magadh Express accident taking his findings as the final word on the matter, instead of merely submitting his report to the Railway Ministry. By his action, as it would appear, Mr. Chand renders the government's privilege to accept or reject the report meaningless.

The state government officials have being equally quick in refuting the charge. The IG Railways, V. Narayanan, released the finding done by the Government Railway Police(GRP) seeking to make mince of the sabotage theory laying emphasis on the point that where the rail track had been claimed to have been cut the edges were smooth, sharp and vertical. Moreover, no explosives had been used, it was claimed, to disprove mischief by naxalite outfits.

Needless to say, the entire objective of the two sides is to save their own skins and as if these accidents were slurring their image, irrespective of their shortcomings in the functioning of the railways as also its other security aspects. The state government has not shown the same concern---as it does in refuting the sabotage aspect of accidents---to check crimes on the railways or to bring to book the dacoits who have been looting passengers with impunity or recover the looted goods.

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