The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Claim chaos replaces stench of dead

Rafiganj, Sept. 14: With the last of the bodies identified and removed from the morgue, the makeshift camps that had been set up at the site of Monday night’s Rajdhani disaster were also quietly dismantled today.

The curious hordes that were till yesterday crowding around the mangled bogies have also thinned. Only a few now peep into the empty compartments.

The chaos and confusion have given way to an eerie silence, as heavy as the stench of death that is still emanating from the wreckage.

Instead, the focus has now shifted to a counter at Gaya railway station, where forms for claiming compensation are being distributed. According to railway officials, some family members of the dead who left Gaya today had enquired about these forms, but their numbers were few as they will be available at other centres, too, in different parts of the country.

Only one body could not be carried home today — that of Ram Prasad, a Calcutta-based businessman who hails from Lucknow. His brother, Satyaprakash, was here to collect the body but could not carry it back as it was in a highly decomposed state.

“I know that my relatives back home in Lucknow are all anxiously waiting for me to take my brother’s body back home, but it is just not possible for me to do so,” Satyaprakash said.

“It is in such a state that I just cannot take it back with me. It was difficult for me to even recognise my brother. I pray that such a fate does not befall even my enemies.”

Satyaprakash later performed the last rites of his brother at Gaya’s Vishnupada burning ghat, having informed his family of his decision only an hour ago. “They were very upset, but there is nothing that I could do about it.”

Three other bodies of a family from Srinagar were also identified during the day. They were of Mohammed Yusuf Ali, his wife Hasina and daughter Tadrees. Ali’s nephews, Wahid and Ashraf, had rushed to Rafiganj on hearing the news.

They, too, faced the same problem that had confronted Satyaprakash: They could not identify the bloated and rotting bodies of their relatives.

But Wahid suddenly remembered that his uncle had stuffed Rs 10,000 into an inner flap of the belt that he was wearing — the belt had been a gift from Wahid — before leaving Calcutta.

He asked the assistants to remove the belt and check if the money was there. It was, and that is how Ali and his family were identified.

Wahid and Ashraf then accompanied the bodies to Srinagar where the last rites will be performed.

The district magistrate of Gaya, Brajesh Mehrotra, said the luggage from the train had been retrieved and kept in safe custody at the Rafiganj police station. It can be collected by relatives of victims or survivors on production of proof.

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