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Six convicted in 1999 Bengal train accident


Kolkata : A West Bengal court Friday convicted six railway personnel for negligence of duty that led to one of the worst train disasters in the world in August 1999 at Gaisal, killing about 400 people.

The Islampur court of North Dinajpur district in north Bengal convicted the six charge-sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for dereliction of duty leading to the collision of Assam Awadh Express and the Brahmaputra Mail.

They were sentenced for two years and fined Rs.11,500 each by the Islampur court judge A. Bhattacharya.

The six railway employees are Kishangunge (Bihar) assistant station master S.P. Chandra, Kishangunge cabin man Mohammed Jalaluddin, Awadh Assam Express guard Bidyananda Chowdhury, Panjipara (West Bengal) cabinman Dulal Chandra Gupta, Panjipara assistant station master Ramnarayan Singha and Kishangunge pointman Jagdishram.

The train disaster occurred Aug 1, 1999 when the two trains carrying 2,500 people collided at the station of Gaisal, located on the Bihar-Bengal border and about 500 km from Kolkata.

The crash, which occurred at about 1.30 a.m., was so severe that the trains actually exploded on collision, killing at least 400 people.

The Brahmaputra Mail from Dibrugarh in Assam, packed with soldiers and security men heading for border regions, had been transferred onto the same track as the Awadh Assam Express from New Delhi due to a signalling error.

The Brahmaputra Mail crashed headlong into the front of the stationary Awadh Assam Express. The engine of the Awadh Assam Express was flung into the air, and passengers from both trains were hurled into neighbouring buildings and fields by the force of the explosion.

A CBI inquiry was ordered and found the six guilty of negligence.