Passengers and relatives gather at the enquiry counter of Dhanbad station, while agitated railway staff (top) block tracks at Pipradih village near Parasnath station on Monday. Pictures by Gautam Dey
A trackman of East Central Railway was killed after being hit by a train near Pipradih village in Giridih in the small hours of Monday leading to a four-hour dharna that led to several trains, including the Rajdhani, being delayed.
Santosh Kumar (24) was crushed to death around 3.40am when he was on patrol duty. A speeding Orissa Sampark Kranti Express ran him over between Parasnath and Chaudharybandh stations near pole number 319/2325, about 55km from Dhanbad.
The train driver informed Chaudharybandh station about the accident at 3.45am. As news spread, workers from Parasnath and adjoining areas like Gomoh rushed to the site and prevented the railway police from removing the body.
The agitators later squatted on the tracks from 7.20am to 11.15am.
Their agitation held up several trains on the grand chord section of Dhanbad division.
The railway staff, under the banner of East Central Railway Karmachari Union, demanded compensation of Rs 50 lakh for Kumar’s family and a job for a next of kin.
Assistant secretary of the union’s Gomoh division P.K. Sinha alleged that Kumar lost his life due to work fatigue.
“Trackmen work for more than 18-19 hours a day. They don’t get adequate sleep. As a result, they feel drowsy all the time. Had Kumar been alert, he would have noticed the approaching train,” he said.
Besides compensation, he added, the railway administration had to reduce working hours of trackmen from 18 to 10 hours a day.
Parasnath station master B. Dubey’s efforts to convince the agitators to lift the dharna went in vain.
Later, a team led by divisional engineer II of Dhanbad B.K. Singh reached the site around 10.30am, held a meeting with Sinha and assured him that they would convey their demands to DRM B.B. Singh.
The blockade was lifted at 11.15am and Kumar’s body sent to Dhanbad on Mumbai-Howrah Mail, which reached the coal town at 1pm, much behind its scheduled arrival at 7.05am.
New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani Express, which was stranded near Hazaribagh Road station, arrived at Dhanbad at 1.15pm instead of its scheduled time at 6.40am.
Similarly, Sealdah-Rajdhani Express reached Dhanbad at 1.22 pm, instead of 6.23am.