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False, Communal Claims About Station Master in Odisha Train Accident Go Viral

We found that the station master at the time of the crash was SB Mohanty, who is neither Muslim nor absconding.

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The deadly train accident that happened in Odisha's Balasore is being given a communal angle on social media platforms.

What is the claim?: Users have claimed that the station master of the place where the accident happened was a Muslim and his name was 'Mohammad Sharif Ahmad'.

  • It is also being said that the incident involved Bangladesh's Rohingyas and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

  • Some users also claimed that a masjid was seen near the accident site.

We found that the station master at the time of the crash was SB Mohanty, who is neither Muslim nor absconding.

An archive of the post can be found here.

(Source: Twitter/Screenshot)

(Archives of similar claims can be found here, here, and here.) We received multiple queries on our WhatsApp tipline about the claim.

What is the truth?: The Quint spoke to Balasore's Deputy Collector, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of Southeastern Railways and some local reporters. All of them confirmed that the claim of the station master belonging to the Muslim community is false and the claim that he is absconding is also wrong.

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  • Further, they also denied the incident involving a terrorist angle.

  • The white structure in the viral image is the ISKCON temple in Bahanaga and not a masjid as claimed. You can read our fact-check here.

How did we find out?: Using a keyword search, we looked for details about the station master of Balasore.

  • We searched for news reports around Bahanaga's station master as the incident happened near the area.

  • A keyword search led us to a video uploaded on the official YouTube channel of India Today, which identified the station master as one SB Mohanty.

  • According to the video, the station master who was on duty at the time of the mishap had been removed, and an enquiry against them has been set up.

  • The present station master can also be seen speaking in the video. He said that Mohanty was not at fault.

What did the local reporters and other officials say?: The Quint spoke to a local reporter named Deepak Samal, who was present at the accident site.

  • He said that the viral claim was false and added that no reports were available to support the claims.

  • Apart from this, we spoke to Balasore's Deputy Collector who refuted the viral claims.

  • Further, we contacted South-Eastern CPRO Aditya Kumar Choudhary who said that several communal claims have gone viral around the tragic incident.

"The name of Bahanaga's station master is not Sharif. His name is SB Mohanty. This claim that he is absconding is also wrong. Everyone is co-operating. Apart from this, the claim that there is a mosque at Bahanaga where the accident took place is also false. Actually it is not a mosque, it is an ISKCON temple."
Aditya Kumar Choudhary, Southeastern CPRO

FIR against SB Mohanty: Choudhary told us that there are many station masters, but at the time of the mishap, SB Mohanty was present. An First Information Report (FIR) has been filed. However, it was against unknown persons.

What are the sections under which the case is filed?: It has been filed under sections 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), and 304 (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.

  • It has also been filed under sections 153 (endangering safety of persons travelling by railway by wilful act or omission) 154 (endangering the safety of persons travelling by railway by rash or negligent act or omission), and 175 (endangering the safety of persons) of The Railways Act.

  • Furthermore, the railway board recommended that the Central Bureau of Investigation takes over the case and as per the latest reports a 10-member CBI team visited the crash site on Tuesday.

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The person seen in the viral claim: A Google Lens search led us to an article published on a website called 'Vikas Chander', which carried the same picture.

  • The article described the details of the author and another person's visit to the Kottavalasa Kirandul KK line in March 2004.

  • While it did not mention any details about the station master, it is clear that the picture was old.

  • The Quint has also reached out to the author for their input and the story will be updated as and when it is received.

Conclusion: The train accident in Odisha's Balasore is being shared with several false communal claims.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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