The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Unofficial victims left out of lists

Burdwan, Sept. 12: These are names that will never figure on the official list of the dead issued by the railway. Nor will their families get compensation.

Lakshminarayan Mishra and Bharat Prasad were “unofficially” working in the train, helping canteen staff and making a living out of tips received from passengers. About 20 such helpers were on board, railway employees who survived the accident said.

Four days after the derailment, they are still missing. But their names are not on any official list. For the railway, they were not on the train.

Senior Eastern Railway officials in Calcutta denied that such a practice existed in the showcase Rajdhani Express, saying it was “absurd”.

But Mohammed Jaffar, an “official” pantry car bearer who returned to Burdwan yesterday by a special train, battered and bruised, said 20 boys had accompanied the two pantry cars.

Jaffar said there were no survivors in the pantry car at the front of the train, while those in the rear escaped with injuries. He said that at least 14 unauthorised bearers were missing.

“The canteen in-charge, B.K. Mishra, used to bring along his brother, Lakshminarayan, and I used to be drafted in by Pradip Kar, the canteen supervisor,” Shahjahan, a canteen boy, said. Most of the boys came from areas like Mehedibagan, Lakshmipur Math, Polepukur and other areas of this town.

B.K. Mishra’s body was brought back here yesterday. Om Prakash, another of his brothers, received the body. With Lakshminarayan missing, Om Prakash were distraught.

“They took him to serve them, but they are not saying a word about his whereabouts,” he cried.

Naresh Rauth, an “official” bearer who survived the crash, said the staff employed to serve the passengers was inadequate.

“These boys do not figure on any official list, but the higher-ups know everything. The permission of the canteen supervisor is enough to take them on board,” he said.

The youths, who provide for their own white “uniforms”, are usually known to the canteen in-charge or some other employees of the catering division.

The usual practice for these young men is to travel between Burdwan and Howrah in trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Delhi-Kalka and Poorva.

Syed Naimuddin, a prominent member of a club adjacent to the Bajepratappur railway colony, said none of the missing boys’ relatives was willing to speak up for fear of others losing their opportunity to earn a living on the trains.

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