**Bhubaneswar:** A five-member National Investigation Team (NIA) on Monday visited the accident spot of Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express near Kuneru railway station in Vizianagaram district on the Andhra-Odisha border.
The NIA has been entrusted with the probe to ascertain sabotage angle by suspicious anti-social or anti-national elements.
Prior to reaching the accident spot, the NIA team visited the injured passengers in the Rayagada and Parbatipuram hospitals to gather information on the mishap that took place around 11.30 pm when the train was Bhubaneswar-bound from Jagdalpur. It had departed from Jagdalpur at 3 pm on Saturday and was scheduled to reach Bhubaneswar at 8.25 am on Sunday.
The NIA team was accompanied by Andhra Police top cops.
Official sources said the team is looking into whether there was a terror angle involved or the accident was due to technical or human error.
It was just an examination of the accident site to draw preliminary inferences whether the case can be taken up by the NIA, they said.
With the Railways suspecting sabotage, Home Ministry was exploring the option of handing over the investigations to NIA, which is nodal agency to probe terror-related cases.
The NIA is also looking into the claims of three persons, arrested from Bihar, that the derailment of Indore-Patna train on November 20 last year, in which 150 people lost their lives, was caused due to sabotage by Pakistan’s ISI.
The probe agency, however, had so far found no evidence or input to this effect during its probe.
Uttar Pradesh Police has also rubbished the claims of any sabotage in the Railway accident.
Moti Paswan, Uma Shankar and Mukesh Yadav, arrested last week from East Champaran district of Bihar, had claimed that they have received Rs 3 lakh to plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at Ghorasahan railway station in the district on October 1 last year.
Bihar Police had reportedly recovered the IEDs.
A team of NIA officials has already gone to Bihar to question the accused and verify their claim.
The trio had reportedly “confessed” to the possible role of ISI in the last year’s derailment. They also claimed to be working for the ISI, the sources said.
Odisha Police, however, ruled out involvement of Naxals in the mishap.
“There is no indication of Maoist’s hand behind the derailment,” Odisha DGP K B Singh had said.
Similarly, the Commissioner Railway Safety also began a thorough inquiry from Monday to ascertain the cause behind the Hirakhand Express derailment.
Railway Safety Commissioner (South Central Circle) Ram Kripal, who is based in Hyderabad, also started the probe on the day.
He also visited the accident site.
Later talking to media he said that the investigation would cover every aspect to ascertain the exact cause of the tragic incident. Reports will be sought from other heads also.
He also informed that he would record the statements of the injured persons also.
“The inquiry process will begin from tomorrow (January 23). The inquiry will be conducted by Commissioner of Railway Safety (South Central Circle) Ram Kripal. Any individual having any knowledge/information about this accident can record their statements before the Commission. All possible angles will be probed,” Jyoti Prakash Mishra, Chief PRO East Coast Railways had informed on Sunday.
On the other hand, normal train movement resumed on Monday morning, at around 6 am, after the affected railway tracks were repaired on a war-footing till the wee hours, ECoR authorities informed.