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First in two decades — and the last

Anil Kumar Dey mourns the death of his wife in the accident at Chhapra sadar hospital on Wednesday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh

June 25: For Anil Kumar Dey and Shefali Dey, their first long-distance tour in nearly two decades turned out to be her last.

A passenger of the Dibrugarh-bound Rajdhani Express, the 78-year-old retired railway employee lost his 65-year-old wife Shefali in the derailment today. A resident of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, he was on his way to Dibrugarh to meet a relative.

Dey had talked to his wife about an hour before the derailment of the train and enquired about her health. “She was unwell. Yet, I had compelled her to accompany me on the tour — the first of its kind after my retirement in 1995,” Dey said, adding that they were scheduled to attend a family get-together on Friday.

He frantically searched for his wife — who was trapped in the compartment — from early morning. The relief and rescue team of the National Disaster Response Force brought the body out around 10am.

The septuagenarian was rescued by villagers. “All my belongings were intact. None of the villagers took away any valuables. They returned my bag containing ornaments and other valuables. They were kind,” he said.

Thirteen-year-old Mauli Dhawan did not know she had lost her parents. Seated on a bed in one corner of the emergency ward of Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) with a bandage around her head, she was munching on chips and chocolates, oblivious of her loss.

A young woman attending to her allowed no one to go near Mauli, a resident of Ferozepur in Punjab. Her parents — Pawan Kumar Dhawan and Neelam Dhawan — were among the four persons who did not survive the Rajdhani Express accident.

Doctors are worried about her. “Two of her relatives are nursing injuries in a different ward. Her brother is admitted to a hospital in Chhapra. We feel sorry for her. The problem is she cannot be told about her loss because she is just a kid,” a doctor told The Telegraph.

On another bed of the ward sat 53-year-old Chittaranjan Mazumdar, a resident of Barpeta in Assam. Behind him was his wife Nirupama, who was informing relatives and friends of the accident.

“We had gone to Haridwar to attend a yoga camp. From there, we had taken a private car and reached Delhi, from where we had boarded the train.” Chittaranjan said.

Jeetendra Nath Burman, another resident of Barpeta in Assam, suffered minor injuries like Chittaranjan. “I was sleeping on an upper berth when the train shook hard. I thought it was an earthquake. It was frightening and I thought this was the end of all. I fell off and was hit on the back. The scene of so many compartments off tracks is still haunting me,” the retired bank manager said.

On another bed, Kavita Saikia was keeping a close watch on her husband Achinta. “I am so alone. We had gone to Delhi for the treatment of my husband. He is a heart patient. I am trying to call up my family but not getting through to them. Can you help me, please?” she pleaded.