| A few relatives of the train accident victims mourn the death of their kin at Chiknauta village in East Champaran district on Tuesday. Picture by Ajit Kumar Verma |
Nineteen deaths and only a handful to mourn.
It may sound strange but Chiknauta village in East Champaran district, around 180km northwest of Patna, presented a somewhat similar picture on Tuesday morning, a day after 19 residents were crushed by a running train at a “manned” level crossing, around half-a-kilometre from the village.
“There was none to wail for the 12 members of Chandra Kishore Pandey’s family when bodies were brought,” said Chiknauta resident Vinay Kumar Singh.
The two surviving members of the family – Chandra Kishore and his mother – were not in the village when the tragedy struck. While Chandra Kishore works outside Bihar, his mother has gone on pilgrimage.
Among the 12 casualties in the family of Chandra Kishore Pandey, there were six children below the age of 10 and others were young members in the age group of 16 to 30.
It was on Tuesday noon when some relatives of the victims reached the village and started wailing.
The seven other people who were killed in the accident were residents of Kharsari village near Dhaka, which is about 45km northeast of the accident site. They had come to Chiknauta to a relative’s house on the occasion of Janmashtami. Their bodies were sent to Kharsari after post-mortem.
One of the villagers said gateman Santosh Kumar had been posted here around a month back and he was an alcoholic. He used to listen to music on his cellphone all the time. Railway officials, however, neither confirmed nor denied what the villagers told.
Sources in the railways revealed that Santosh is a resident of Madhubani and he was appointed in the railways three years back.
Two survivors of the accident Sandhya Kumar (6) and an infant (18 month old) who are residents of Kharsari are being treated at the government hospital in Motihari. Recalling the incident Sandhya said: “I was sitting in the middle seat and just saw a train coming towards our vehicle. After that I lost my consciousness.”
Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi visited Motihari sadar hospital during the autopsy of the victims late on Monday night and consoled members and relatives of the bereaved families. He also met the victims admitted there for treatment.
The accident occurred around 3pm on Monday, barely 20 minutes after the Muzaffarpur-Dehradun Rapti Ganga Express left Bapudham Motihari railway station. The Dehradun-bound train was speeding down the tracks at about 70kmph and had rammed into the autorickshaw.