| Injured engineering student Afreen Khatun with her mother Farzana Ahmad (right) at Patna Medical College and Hospital on Thursday. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
A sudden hit. Shriek. Blackout.
When Afreen Khatun regained consciousness on a bed at Patna Medical College and Hospital on Thursday, she asked people around her: “Nobody is telling me where Nahid Anjum is. Can you find her?” No one had the courage to break her the news of Nahid’s death. For Afreen, 20, admitted to the neuro-surgery ward of PMCH, such heart-rending news could be fatal as they were best friends even 24 hours back. They used to travel together in college bus, share snacks and music on way like any other student of their age.
On Wednesday afternoon also, they had their earphones plugged in while coming back from their institute, Marble Engineering College in Chap, till a loud bang stopped the music. Afreen, seated with Nahid in the last row of the bus, feebly recollects the screams and cries for help before she passed out. Nahid, with six of her classmates, died on the spot as the Bagh Express rammed into their bus at a manned but open level crossing on the NH-58 just outside Siwan Junction station.
“Please find out where my friend is,” Afreen, who has got serious brain injuries besides deep cuts on her face and waist, asked this correspondent.
Apart from Afreen, nine other equally traumatised victims were brought to PMCH on Wednesday evening. Two of them are said to be in critical condition while eight are now out of danger.
Shama Parveen, a final-year BCA student at the college, has been crying inconsolable, writhing in pain, since the accident. “Just as the bus reached the tracks on the level crossing, we all heard a sharp train siren and realised that death was imminent. There were vehicles behind and, obviously, ahead of us blocking the bus. Many students tried to jump off the vehicle as they saw the express train approaching. I also reached the door but could not jump as there was a loud thud of train ramming into our bus. It seemed to have happened in split second. When I opened my eyes, I found myself at this hospital,” said Shama.
Shama’s brother, Irfan Siddiqui, alleged the accident victims were not treated with priority. “I had to call Siwan district magistrate to get a bed allotted to my sister and the entire night she was lying on the floor. Even now doctors and nurses are not attending properly and I am thinking of shifting her to a private nursing home,” he said.
But Rajendra Gupta, 23, is hardly bothered about allegation and counter-allegation of negligence at hospital or at the Chap level crossing itself. Even with his fractured right leg and severe skull injuries, he thanked his fate. “We were chatting among ourselves when one of my friends noticed the approaching train. Even before I could reach the door of the bus, the speeding train knocked me off. It’s my destiny that I am still alive.”