New Delhi, June 6 (EFE).- The Central Bureau Investigation (CBI), one of India’s premier investigative agencies, on Tuesday began looking into the recent train accident that left 275 dead and more than a thousand injured.
The development comes even though the Indian authorities claimed to have identified the cause of the accident and those responsible for it.
A CBI team arrived in the morning in Balasore district, in the eastern state of Odisha, the scene of India’s worst accident in the 21st century, where two passenger trains and one freight train collided, according to PTI news agency.
CBI’s involvement comes after Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said Sunday that he had asked for a parallel investigation to the one conducted by his ministry into the accident.
However, that same day Vaishnaw said he had identified the cause of the accident and those responsible.
The minister pointed to a problem with the automatic signaling system as responsible for the crash, but did not provide further details.
The CBI investigation has been met with criticism from the opposition.
Jairam Ramesh, a senior member of the opposition Indian National Congress (INC) party of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, said it was nothing but “headlines management” and an attempt to divert attention from the issue before the Commission on Railway Safety had published its conclusions.
“The CBI is meant to investigate crimes, not railway accidents. The CBI, or any other law enforcement agency, cannot fix accountability for technical, institutional and political failures. In addition, they lack the technical expertise in railway safety, signalling, and maintenance practices,” INC president Mallikarjun Kharge said in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The crash marks the worst railway accident in India in the 21st century.
In 1999, the collision of two trains in the state of West Bengal left 288 dead, while 800 people were killed in 1981 when a train derailed while crossing a bridge and fell into a river in the northern state of Bihar.
India’s railway network is the fourth largest in the world after the United States, Russia and China, with a coverage of over 68,000 kilometers.
It transports around 23 million passengers daily in over 21,600 trains moving through 7,349 stations. EFE