CBI seals missing Balasore station engineer’s home as probe into Odisha train crash intensifiestext_fields
Balasore: In light of the ongoing probe into the triple train tragedy in Odisha, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sealed the residence of the Signal Junior Engineer from the Soro section in Balasore.
The engineer, who resided in a rented house in Balasore, was initially questioned by the investigative agency but has since gone missing along with his family. The CBI had interrogated the engineer at an undisclosed location during the initial stages of the investigation.
After their visit to Balasore on June 16, the CBI team returned on Monday and proceeded to seal the engineer's residence. However, upon inspection, it was discovered that the engineer was not present at his home.
The sealing of the house marks a crucial development in the investigation, as the Signal Junior Engineer plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of train operations.
Their responsibilities encompass the installation, maintenance, and repair of signaling equipment, including signals, track circuits, point machines, and interlocking systems. It should be noted that the specific duties of a Signal Junior Engineer may vary depending on the division or zone within the Indian Railways.
The death toll resulting from the Balasore train accident climbed to 292 on Sunday, with a 24-year-old passenger from West Bengal succumbing to injuries at a state-run hospital in Cuttack, according to an official statement.
Out of the total fatalities, 287 individuals lost their lives at the accident site earlier this month, while five others died due to injuries sustained in hospitals. Additionally, 1,208 people were injured as a result of the tragedy.
The CBI took over the investigation of the Balasore train accident on June 6, already having filed a First Information Report (FIR) in connection with the case. The agency's involvement was prompted by allegations of tampering with the electronic interlocking system following the accident.
This system provides crucial information regarding the status of trains, and concerns regarding possible sabotage were raised by officials.
Given the specialized nature of railway-related cases, the investigation may require the expertise of railway security and forensic specialists, as the CBI officials assigned to the case may not possess extensive experience in handling such matters.
In the initial stages of the investigation, the station was promptly sealed by the CBI, who seized the "log book," "relay panel," and other relevant equipment. Subsequently, the relay interlocking panel was also sealed, resulting in the suspension of employee access to the signaling system.
Until further notice, no passenger or goods trains will stop at the Bahanaga Bazar station, and all train operations at the Bahanaga station have been suspended. Official sources indicate that an inquiry is underway to determine the potential involvement of five railway employees, including the station master at Bahanaga Bazar, in the Balasore train tragedy.
Reports from India Today suggest that four other employees responsible for signaling-related tasks were on duty at the time of the accident.
The tragic incident, now being recognized as one of India's worst train accidents, involved the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, Bengaluru-Howrah Super Fast Express, and a goods train.
The collision occurred near the Bahanaga Bazar station around 7 pm on June 2, when the Coromandel Express crashed into a stationary goods train, causing severe derailment of its coaches. Furthermore, a few coaches of the Coromandel Express struck the rear coaches of the Bengaluru-Howrah Express, which was passing by at the same time.