The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday arrested three railway officials in connection with the triple train collision in Odisha last month that resulted in the death of nearly 300 people.
The central probe agency arrested Arun Kumar Mahanta, senior section engineer, Mohammad Amir Khan, section engineer, and technician Pappu Kumar, all posted in Balasore district, officials said.
This was the first arrests made by the CBI in this case.
They were arrested under Sections 304 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code, the CBI said in a statement.
Section 304 under IPC is a non-bailable offence (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), while Section 201 deals with the disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender.
It is a bailable offence.
The trio was also charged under Section 153 of the Railway Act, 1989 (endangering safety of persons travelling by railway by wilful act or omission).
The crash on June 2 involving two passenger trains and a goods train killed more than 290 people and injured more than 1,100, while the movement of goods and passenger trains on the busy route was also disrupted.
The accident involved three trains: the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express, Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and a stationary goods train.
A high-level investigation by the Commission of Rail Safety (CRS) revealed that the lack of vigilance by several staff members and lapses by signalling and telecommunications departments at multiple levels caused the accident.
"These lapses resulted in wrong signalling to Train 12841 (Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express), where green signal was indicated for run through movement on the main line of the station, but crossover 17 A/B was set to the up loop line. This caused the train to traverse on a loop line, and an eventual rear collision with the goods train," the CRS report, seen by Business Standard, had said.
The report also said that the accident could have been averted if long-pending shortcomings in the department’s functioning had been flagged and rectified in time, as a similar incident had also been reported in the South Eastern Railway zone in May.
The CBI had officially taken over the probe into the case on June 6.
They were roped in on the recommendation of the railway board, to probe potential interference and sabotage after initial inspections had found the possibility of some interference with the interlocking systems at the Bahanaga Bazar station.