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After honeymoon, the train to death

Rafiganj (Aurangabad), Sept. 10: Last week, they had been on their honeymoon. Today, her husband was in another room, very near to where she was, but unaware of her presence — he was dead.

Twenty-three-year-old Rupali Gupta sat in a dim, dank room at Rafiganj Sadar Hospital surrounded by four women constables, sobbing, alone in her grief.

The tears came in torrents the moment she realised that a reporter was standing before her. “What stories do you want to make of me'” she wailed. “Look at my husband who is now cold as stone in the other room.”

Rupali sobbed uncontrollably, blaming her fate, the government and police for snatching away her husband of only four months.

“Please call my father from Lucknow. Let him see what fate has done to her daughter,” she wept as she recounted the mirage of her all-too-brief happiness and the horrors of last night.

On May 24, Rupali, who is from Lucknow, had got married to Krishna Gupta, a businessman in Calcutta. Last week, the couple had gone on their honeymoon. They had then returned to Calcutta and were on their way to Lucknow to meet relatives.

From Uttar Pradesh, they would have gone to Uttarakhand. Little did they know that this would be their last ride together.

“I don’t know what happened. I said goodnight to my husband around 10,” she said. Her next memory is of blinding pain and her husband’s cries. Krishna, flung from the upper berth, was screaming for help.

After five long hours, the two were extricated from coach AS-5. By then it was already too late.

Krishna was rushed to this subdivisional hospital, but died practically untreated, his wife said.

Rupali had survived the nightmare, but it was a miracle she could have done without.

Now the only question on her lips is: “Why am I alive'”

The cries of women in the ill-fated bogies even 10 hours after the accident speak of the kind of rescue operation being carried out.

Dr A. Rafique, one of the doctors at the scene, said there was no medicine for the ill even after a relief train reached from Gaya. The medical van had only parasitamol, Rafique said.

The worst sufferers were women. There was not a single woman doctor. Of the 50 bodies retrieved, at least 20 were women.

Some reporters at the site drew the attention of army jawans to the faint cries of a woman buried deep in the wreckage of coach AS 4. “I am Shivani, Please help, please…” she was moaning.

Trapped for 10 hours inside a bogie, she did not know if she had suffered any serious damage but said she could not feel anything waist downwards.

The jawans used gas-cutters to rip through the mangled steel and iron and pull her out. She was then sent to hospital for treatment and even taken to a booth so that she could talk to her father in Delhi.

The jawans from the Gorkha Regiment were joined by hundreds of volunteers from local organisations. But very few of them were volunteers from women’s organisations who could understand the needs of the women passengers.

Two cranes were removing the wreckage. Rescuers and all those present grimaced when a woman’s body, bruised beyond recognition, was carried out by a jawan and placed on an open ground.

“Oh God, she deserved a better handling,” screamed a village woman.

Most of the bodies waiting to be identified had begun to rot as they lay in the open, no canopy to shade them from the pitiless sun, when it was not raining.

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