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Kids crushed, rail official burnt alive

The scene at Gulabganj railway station after the protest

Bhopal, Feb. 26: Two kids in a hurry to meet their grandparents ran into the path of an oncoming express as their mother watched helpless, hours before the railway minister rose in Parliament today to speak on track safety.

Not long after the siblings had been mowed down, tragedy struck again at Gulabgunj, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, when incensed villagers set fire to a room in the railway station, trapping three panic-stricken employees who had locked themselves in.

Two of them died, while one was battling death with 70 per cent burns.

Mohd Ali, 4, and Anam Iqra, 14, were in a hurry to meet their grandparents in Bhopal, 80km from Gulabgunj. In the absence of a footbridge, they ducked under a stationary goods train to cross the tracks along with their mother.

The parallel tracks were empty and the siblings, who had emerged from under the stationary train, were off in a flash. They didn’t see the speeding 12708 Tirupati Hazrat Nizamuddin Sampark Kranti Express bearing down.

Within minutes, a crowd of over 200 from villages near Gulabgunj station had gathered. Assistant stationmaster Sanket Bansal, point supervisor Bhagwan Das and another employee panicked and locked themselves in a room.

“The mob set fire to a room where three railway employees had locked themselves in. Bhagwan Das was charred to death, while another employee, who is yet to be identified, died during treatment,” West Central Railway spokesperson K.K. Dubey said, adding that Bansal had suffered over 70 per cent burns.

Gulabgunj falls under the Vidisha parliamentary constituency of Lok Sabha Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj.

According to local police, the mob was reportedly furious that station authorities had not announced the express was approaching.

Railway officials said it was not a practice to announce arrival of trains that don’t halt at small stations. The stationmaster comes out to show the green flag, they said. Moreover, they said, he couldn’t have done much after the kids had sprinted for the tracks.