Points of concurrence

Published : Jul 01, 2005 00:00 IST

THE POTA Review Committee's findings can be said to corroborate the following interim findings of the U.C. Banerjee Committee:

It is not only common knowledge that the doors of any railway compartment cannot be locked by any person from outside, but it is also the finding of the Forensic Science Laboratory, Gujarat, that the three doors of S6 were actually open while the coach was burning.

The key issue is: Can the fire on the train be said to be a "miscreant activity" by an outsider on an overcrowded moving train? The answer cannot but be in the negative.

The conclusions of the Delhi-based non-governmental organisation Hazards Centre, which also held an independent inquiry into the incident, revealed as follows [the Banerjee committee endorsed these]:

It is possible that the fire originated in the region between the last two cabins and started by burning the lower berth first. The resultant dense and high temperature smoke spread to the top of the carriage and then moved along the ceiling and between the ceiling and the roof through the length of the coach. The radiative and convective heat generated eventually resulted in a flash-over when the fire engulfed the entire coach towards the top.

If the fire was started by an inflammable fluid on the floor, the flames would have been noticed right away in a very crowded carriage, precluding the possibility of a long smouldering source.

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