Expressing shock and grief at the train accident in Odisha, Opposition parties on Saturday said that serious questions need answers from the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government.
At least 288 passengers have been killed and around 900 were injured in the crash involving three trains in Odisha’s Balasore on Friday.
The accident, one of India’s worst train disasters, occurred at around 7 pm in when two coaches of the Yashwantpur-Howrah Express derailed near the Bahanaga Railway Station near Balasore. The derailed coaches came in the path of the speeding Coromandel Express on the adjoining track and collided with it. A goods train was also hit in the process.
Visuals shared on social media showed upturned train cars and people attempting to pull survivors from the wreck.
Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that a detailed high-level investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the accident. Media reports, however, said that the Railways was looking at a signalling error as the possible cause of the accident.
On Saturday, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said that he has instructed his party members to extend all possible help.
“We have many questions to ask of the prime minister and the railway minister but those can wait since the immediate task is of rescue and relief,” Kharge said.
Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said that the incident reinforces why safety should always be the first priority in the functioning of the Railways.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who visited the accident site on Saturday afternoon said that there has been a coordination gap in the railways and demanded that a probe must be done.
“This is the biggest train accident of this century and a proper investigation must be conducted,” Banerjee said, according to PTI. “Something must be behind this. The truth must come out.”
Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee said that Vaishnaw should tender his resignation following the train accident.
He also alleged that the Centre was spending crores of rupees on software to spy on Opposition leaders while neglecting the installation of anti-collision devices in trains, according to PTI.
Communist Party of India leader Binoy Visvam also demands Vaishnaw’s resignation.
“The government concentrates only on luxury trains,” Visvam said in a tweet. “Trains and tracks of common people are neglected. Orissa’s deaths are the result of it. Rail minister should resign.”
Bihar minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Sanjay Kumar Jha said that the accident highlights the infrastructural deficiencies of the Railways and lapses in passenger safety, according to PTI.