Prabhu offers to resign; Modi puts it on hold

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 24 Aug 2017 08:39:01



ABOUT 100 passengers were wounded when 10 coaches of Kaifiyat Express train derailed after crashing into a dumper which strayed on to the tracks, second such incident in five days that prompted calls for the resignation of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu who himself offered to quit.

Though the minister’s offer is yet to be accepted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the accident claimed a big casualty with A K Mittal resigning as Chairman of the Railway Board whose chief is the administrative head of the public sector transport behemoth.

Air India chairman Ashwani Lohani replaced Mittal as the new chairman of the Railway Board.
Superintendent of Police, Auraiya, Sanjay Tyagi said 10 bogies of the train derailed of which one overturned, leaving nearly 100 passengers wounded. Four with serious injuries were rushed to Saifai and Etawah hospitals.
Some of the injured were discharged from hospitals after first aid, the SP said, adding there was no report of any death so far.

The railways, however, put the number of those injured at 25. The accident occurred when the sand-laden dumper, engaged for transporting construction material for the dedicated freight corridor, overturned while moving on a road parallel to the tracks. A portion of the vehicle lay on the tracks resulting in the crash, Uttar Pradesh Home Secretary Bhagwan Swarup said.

The second train accident since last Saturday when Utkal Express had derailed in Muzaffarnagar district of UP, killing 22 people and injuring 156, set off calls for Prabhu’s resignation. The main Opposition Congress accused Prabhu of having “utterly failed” in his job and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sack him and appoint a “responsible person” in the position.

This “responsibility business” would not do, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said while stressing that Prabhu must resign.
Earlier in the day, Prabhu had taken “full moral responsibility” for the recent train accidents and indicated he had offered to resign at a meeting with the prime minister.

“I met the Hon’ble Prime Minister @narendramodi taking full moral responsibility,” Prabhu said in a tweet. The prime minister, he added, had asked him to wait.

“In less than three years as Minister, I have devoted my blood and sweat for the betterment of the Railways. Under leadership of PM, tried to overcome decades of neglect through systemic reforms in all areas leading to unprecedented investment and milestones,” he said. “New India envisioned by PM deserves a Railways which is efficient and modern.

I promise that is the path, on which Rlys is progressing now. I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives. It has caused me deep anguish.”

Prabhu met Modi after a meeting of the Union Cabinet and left the city soon thereafter, his staff told PTI.
Kaifiyat Express, named after famous Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi, the father of film actor Shabana Azmi, runs between Azamgarh and the national capital. The Azmis hail from Azamgarh.

The railways said the dumper did not belong to it and that the driver fled the scene soon after the accident. Apparently an error on the driver’s part caused the accident,
officials said.