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Monday, August 19, 2013

Train runs over 37 pilgrims crossing tracks in Bihar Mob Thrashes Driver, Sets Bogies Ablaze

Saharsa/Khagaria (Bihar): 

At least 37 people were crushed to death and scores of others injured when the Saharsa-Patna Rajyarani Express barrelled in at about 80km an hour at the remote Dhamara Ghat railway station while the victims were crossing the tracks on Monday. The accident led to violent protests, with mobs brutally assaulting the train driver, setting over a dozen coaches afire, ransacking offices and holding railway staff hostage for several hours. 
    Most of the victims were pilgrims on their way to Katyayani temple of Lord Shiva, which is situated near the railway station, on the last Monday of the holy month of Shravan. 

    They had alighted from the Saharsa-Samastipur passenger and Jan Seva trains and were crossing the tracks to reach the platform on the other side when the speeding Rajyarani ploughed into 
them on the middle track at about 8.40am. 
    While nine of those killed by the train were women, four of them were children.
Official blames pilgrims for 'trespass' 
Saharsa/Khagaria (Bihar): With violent protests making it difficult for relief and rescue teams to reach Dhamara Ghat station in Bihar following the mowing down of at least 37 pilgrims, bodies lay on the tracks for hours. The accident site is around 160km from Patna and accessible only by rail. Six seriously injured passengers were rushed to Khagaria Sadar hospital, while two were sent to Patna. Relief and medical teams were rushed from Barauni, Saharsa and Katihar. 
    Seething with rage, people burned down over 12 coaches, including two AC ones, and the engines of both Rajyarani Express and the Saharsa-Samastipur train. There was no one to douse the flames until 4pm, said a passenger. While the delay in the rehab efforts raised the hackles of the mob further, railway officials blamed the issue on the agitation. 
    Calling it a case of "trespass", Railway Board chairman Arunendra Kumar said the pilgrims were illegally crossing the tracks. "Rajyarani Express ploughed into them as they were frenetically getting 
across the middle track at the station," said Samastipur divisional railway manager Arun Malik, adding that Rajyarani had clearance as it did not have a stoppage at Dhamara Ghat. 
    The Bihar government has announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the kin of those killed. Chief minister Nitish Kumar said he had spoken to railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge and urged him to arrange more compensation from the railways. 
Kharge has reportedly promised to consider the demand. Agencies said Kharge has raised the compensation to Rs 5 lakh. 
    East Central Railway chief public relations officer Amitabh Prabhakar said the authorities had spoken to the district magistrate and the SP, both of who had to face public ire, and directed them to provide police reinforcement so that medical aid could be rushed to the injured before they could be shifted to hospitals. 

Kharge faces opposition fury in RS over accident 
New Delhi: Railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge had to face a tough time in Rajya Sabha on Monday while making a statement on the Bihar train tragedy. Kharge described the train mishap as an "incident" in his statement. He said that such tragedies were termed incidents under railway rules. A member said the compensation for victims of 'incidents' was less than in case of 'accidents' and it would not go on record while computing total number of train accidents. TNN

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