When tragedy struck, it struck in epic proportions. It is premature to arrive at conclusions as to why and how three trains got derailed or collided one after another. Initial assumptions are that electronic signal malfunctioning was to blame and that a maintenance work on signals there recently was not done properly. There is no way to get at the truth, perhaps, as the outcomes of all official investigations are manipulated at will. Even the judicial inquiries are a sham. The reports generally run into hundreds of pages, all verbal indulgences, and often it is difficult to make head or tail out of these. They are simply futile exercises costing huge sums. Firm conclusions are rarely made, leaving many ifs and buts unexplored. Such inquiries are mostly an escape attempt to hoodwink the public. The reports gather dust in the respective ministerial departments. Hence, optimism is less about a proper dissection of the reasons that led to the Balasore mishap though technical teams investigating the matter might be able to arrive at some conclusions and confidentially reach them to the government.

The tendency on the part of politicians to fish in troubled waters proved to be supreme again. Since one of the trains was from and another to Kolkata, it was natural that chief minister Mamata Banerjee rushed to Balasore. Banerjee teased the railway minister on the spot and her nephew quickly demanded that Vaishnaw resign. Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari rightly asked him back whether his aunt had resigned as the then rail minister after the huge rail mishap, in Jnaneswari in West Bengal in 2010, which killed 150 passengers. It is logical that a rail minister owns up moral responsibility, admits to a flaw in his functional responsibility and hangs up his boots. Yet, the priority now was to deal with an emergency situation. But these political devils were not in the least bothered about the tragedy at hand. Their mental preoccupation is to make political gains at every drop of a hat.

The pain that the large mass of injured passengers went through was unimaginable. The rescue work went on and on for nearly 24 hours. Rushing the disaster response teams to the scene helped. But, this drag for long hours could have been avoided had the army been called out post haste to take charge in full force. This would have speeded up the rescue. Instead, the injured were made to struggle through their bone or head fractures or worse inside the derailed compartments for several hours. A big question is, why the long drag about the Kavach system’s full-scale implementation to avert head-on collisions. This is truly a national disaster.