Hours after the Kaifiyat Express collided with a dumpster in Uttar Pradesh, injuring 74 people, another train hit a tractor in Villuppuram near Chennai on Wednesday afternoon, media reports said. However, no casualty has been reported so far. These incidents came just five days after a major derailment occured near Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh, killing 22 people.
In the immediate aftermath of these incidents, railway minister Suresh Prabhu met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday and said he “took responsibility” for the spate of accidents and offered to step down. Defence minister Arun Jaitley said that the prime minister will take a final call on it.
Prabhu had earlier said after the meeting that Modi didn’t seek his resignation, and had asked him to “wait”.
On Wednesday morning, the Kaifiyat Express train, travelling from Azamgarh to Delhi, collided with a sand dumper around 2.50 am between Pata and Achalda stations, a spokesperson for the North Central Railway (NCR) told PTI.
Sources also said that work for a dedicated freight corridor was in progress at the site at the time of the accident. This was followed by Railway Board chairman AK Mittal’s resignation after two accidents in five days.
At least seven trains were cancelled and 40 were diverted in Uttar Pradesh due to Wednesday’s incident.
Following the Utkal Express derailment last week, several political parties had demanded Prabhu’s resignation, saying the minister should be personally responsible for the poor railway safety standards in the country.
Congress said Prabhu should introspect and reflect on what has happened and that sending some officials on leave “mocks” the unfortunate deaths.
“The Congress demands that Suresh Prabhu, railway minister, should immediately resign from his position,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters.