The public is demanding the resignation of India’s Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw after one of India’s most disastrous rail tragedies in many years took place in Odisha on June 2, killing at least 270 people and injuring 900 others. Many bodies are still trapped inside the derailed trains.
The accident occurred when a passenger train derailed and struck two other trains near Balasore, a city near the coast in eastern Odisha state. The cause of the derailment is still under investigation, but some reports suggest that the train was traveling at a high speed and that the track was not equipped with an automatic train protection system.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the scene of the accident and vowed to punish those responsible. He also announced compensation for the victims and their families. However, many people are not satisfied with his response and are blaming the government for neglecting the safety of the railways, which are vital for the economy and the lives of millions of Indians.
Two of India’s previous railway ministers resigned on moral grounds after massive accidents in 1999 and 2011. However, Mr Vaishnaw has not indicated any intention to step down, saying that his focus is on the rescue and relief operation. He also defended the government’s efforts to modernize and upgrade the railways, which have seen a decline in fatal accidents in recent years.
The opposition parties have criticized Mr Vaishnaw for his handling of the crisis and have called for his resignation. They have also accused the government of failing to implement adequate safety measures and of prioritizing high-speed trains over basic infrastructure.
The accident has raised questions about the state of India’s railways, which are one of the world’s largest and oldest networks. Despite being a lifeline for many people, especially in rural areas, the railways suffer from aging infrastructure, overcrowding, underfunding and corruption. The government has pledged to invest billions of dollars in improving the railways, but progress has been slow and uneven.
The public is demanding accountability and justice for the victims of the accident, which has been described as “extremely tragic” by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The state has declared a day of mourning as a mark of respect to the victims. Hundreds of young people have lined up outside a government hospital in Odisha’s Soro to donate blood for the injured.