3 arrested for Doon Express fire

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  • Published 11.12.11

Dhanbad, Dec. 10: Dhanbad police yesterday arrested three employees of Eastern Railway’s electrical department for their “highly careless” handling of the fire on board Howrah-Dehradun Doon Express in the small hours of November 23. They were later released on bail.

Seven persons, including two children, were killed after two AC coaches of the 13009 Up Doon Express caught fire between Parasnath and Gomoh stations. The fire appeared to have been fed or started by a defective heater or a fault in the air conditioning system. Two separate probes were initiated into the incident with all railway staff on board the train that day questioned.

The trio —senior electrical technician A.K. Chatterji, helper-cum-coach attendant Bhola Majumdar and technician Gopal Mukherji — were summoned from Howrah for interrogation by the district police officers last Monday. They were taken into custody yesterday after being grilled about their roles after the fire was reported.

According to police sources, the employees during interrogation deposed that they had taken all necessary precautions before the train set out from Howrah. They claimed that they had checked all electrical fittings of AC coach B1, where the fire started, and had even claimed that a short circuit was probably not the culprit. A short circuit in the air conditioning system would have tripped the main switch of the bogie, which was not the case, they said.

Senior technician Chatterjee, while being grilled, also claimed that he was personally present in B1 during the time of the incident and was the one to pull the chain to catch the driver’s attention.

Sources said during questioning the railway employees stuck to the theory that the fire having started somewhere between berth numbers 23 and 25 of B1 due to the presence of some highly inflammable material.

Confirming the arrest, Dhanbad railway superintendent of police P.K. Srivastava said that the trio was arrested after the police found gross negligence on their part and contradictions in statements.