Cooch Behar, Oct. 18: Fourteen-year-old Purnima’s life is in tatters after the train accident near New Cooch Behar station last night in which the car shed-bound Malda-Bamunhat local mowed down her grandmother Razia, who raised her, and uncle Sambhu Singh, the family’s breadwinner.
Sambhu, 20, and his mother Razia, 60, were crushed under the wheels of the train, along with Sunil Mahanta and his wife Gita, while they were watching an immersion procession sitting on the rail tracks.
Razia’s husband, 86-year-old Puneet, is speechless after the tragedy.
His granddaughter, Purnima, a Class VI student, had been orphaned when she was very young.
“Razia’s daughter Rajkumari died when Purnima was just over a year old. Soon after that, the girl lost her father, Puran Singh. Since then, Razia brought her up. Sambhu, a rickshaw puller, was the only bread earner of the family. Now that he is no more, there is no one to look after the girl,” said Ranjita Chouhan, a neighbour.
She added that Puneet was also a rickshaw puller. “Now he is too old to do anything. We do not know who will take care of him and his granddaughter.”
Sumita Roy, another resident of the area, said the accident took place around 9.30pm yesterday when an immersion procession was passing their colony.
“There was loud music and lights flashing. We were all distracted by the procession and did not notice the train. The driver did not blow the horn. Had he been more alert, the tragedy would not have happened,” she said.
Rana Mahanta, the 28-year-old son of Sunil and Gita, and Haren Roy, 45, were injured in the accident and they have been admitted to the district hospital.
Trinamul MLA from Natabari, Rabindranath Ghosh, has demanded that the railways pay Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh to the injured.
“The deaths took place because of the negligence of the railways and the department should pay compensation to the victims. The tragedy would not have happened if the driver was alert and the train was slow. We demand that the compensation be paid immediately,” he said.
The divisional railway manager of Northeast Frontier Railways, Alipurduar, Virendra Kumar, said: “The incident is very tragic. The victims are residents of an illegal colony. We had served a notice to them two months ago asking them to vacate the railway land. We are holding an inquiry.”