Social media posts trying to communalise the tragic train accident in Odisha's Balasore region have falsely claimed that the Station Master at Bahanaga Bazar station is a Muslim and fled the accident site. The posts also falsely claim that the station master is a person named Sharif Ali.
BOOM reached out to Aditya Kumar Chaudhary, Chief Public Relations Officer, South Eastern Railway, who confirmed to us that the Assistant Station Master of Bahanaga Bazar is SB Mohanty and not 'Sharif Ali', as claimed on social media platforms. Further, Chaudhary also confirmed that Mohanty did not flee from the spot, as reported by a news outlet.
On June 2, 2023 the Shalimar Chennai Cormandel Express (12841) enroute Chennai from Shalimar, West Bengal, met with a horrific accident near Bahanaga Bazar station in Odisha’s Balasore district. The Express train collided with a stationary goods train, derailed, hitting another running train, Howrah Superfast Express. The accident has resulted in the deaths of 270 people so far and left over 1000 people injured. The Railway Ministry has sought a probe by the Central Bureau Investigation (CBI).
Since the tragic accident, several right-wing users have peddled conspiracy theories without any proof and have insinuated that members of the Muslim community are behind the crash.
The viral messages, widely shared on Facebook, further amplify an already debunked narrative that a mosque was present beside the accident spot in Balasore district of Odisha. BOOM was able to verify that the image shows an ISKCON temple near the accident spot and not a mosque as falsely claimed by several users on social media. Read the ground report here.
The message reads, “See the arrow....all will be clear. Station Master Sharif who was responsible & posted there where Koramondal Express Collided, és missing from last night. Hunt is on to trace. Disgusting & Shameful. Intelligence agencies suspect Bangladeshi & Rohingya angles plus ISI and Manipur. Turning out” (sic.)
BOOM also received the same message in Hindi on its WhatsApp Helpline number (+91 7700906588) for verification.
Excerpts of the message reads: “Station Master Sharif is missing after the accident. The angle of Rohingya Bangladeshi and ISI is coming to the fore. This means that this accident could be a terrorist incident. There is a mosque very close to where the accident happened.”
(Original Message in Hindi: स्टेशन मास्टर शरीफ एक्सीडेंट के बाद से गायब है। रोहिंग्या बांग्लादेशी और आई एस आई का एंगल सामने आ रहा है। इसका मतलब यह दुर्घटना एक आंतकवादी घटना हो सकती है। जहां एक्सीडेंट हुआ है उसके बिल्कुल करीब एक मस्जिद है।… )(sic)
'Station master on the run?'
Kalinga TV reported on June 3, 2023 that according to reports Bahanaga Assistant Station Master SB Mohanty, who was on duty, fled from the spot after the train accident took place. The report was titled as, “Odisha train accident: Bahanaga Assistant Station Master is on the run, case registered”
The three-train accident spot near Bahanaga Bazar station falls under Kharagpur Division of South Eastern Railway. BOOM reached out to Aditya Kumar Chaudhary, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO), for South Eastern Railway.
Chaudhary identified the station master as SB Mohanty and not Sharif Ali.
“There is no staff or station master named Sharif Ali at Bahanaga Bazar Station.” Aditya Kumar Chaudhary, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO), for South Eastern Railway.
Chaudhary further refuted the claim that Mohanty fled from the accident spot. “SB Mohanty, Assistant Station Master did not flee after the incident happened. He was co-ordinating with others during the rescue operation in the accident spot. None of the station masters have been suspended.” Chaudhury added.
He further confirmed that a case has been registered against unknown persons at Government Railway Police (GRP), Balasore.
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