An 18-year-old boy was killed while three women and two girls were seriously injured when they were trapped between two speeding trains coming from opposite directions at a level crossing near Park Circus station on Thursday morning. Railway officials said they were trying to cross the tracks, despite the level-crossing gate being closed.
The injured were taken to the nearby Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital, where doctors said the condition of two was critical.
The accident took place around 10 am when a Sealdah-bound train and another EMU local proceeding towards Diamond Harbour were crossing each other near the No. 13 level crossing off Raicharan Pal Lane.
Altaf Hussain died on the spot. The doctors in the hospital said he was brought with both his legs severed from his body. The five injured were also said to have been admitted to the hospital with severed limbs.
“We saw the group standing on the eastern side of the level crossing. By the time the Down Diamond Harbour train reached the crossing, the group had managed to cross the tracks. But they had not realised that another Up train was approaching from the opposite direction,” said Aslam Mohammad, a local resident.
Three of the injured have been identified as Kashmira Begum, 30, Anisha Bibi, 22, and Naseem, 7.
Plying of trains on the Sealdah South section remained suspended for five hours as thousands of residents took to the tracks. Services resumed at 3 pm.
A huge contingent of police was rushed to the spot as a violent mob of over 5,000 went on the rampage. Thousands of residents of the area, mostly those dwelling in the shanties along the railway line, squatted on the tracks and threatened to continue the agitation indefinitely.
The mob broke open the gateman’s room, ransacked it, dismantled its roof and attacked the police with brickbats. The agitators refused to lift the blockade till railway officials assured them that the gateman would be punished if found guilty of negligence.
Immediately after the accident, the next Down Baruipur-bound local was stopped and severely damaged. The mob smashed its doors, windows, seats and electrical fittings and also heckled its driver.
What aggravated matters was a rumour that the accident occurred due to the negligence of the gateman on duty, who had kept the level-crossing gate open.
Saumitra Majumdar, senior public relations officer, Eastern Railway, said the gateman was not responsible for the accident. “The allegation is baseless, as the trains would not have got the green signal if the gate was kept open. The green signal is given at any level crossing only when the gate is closed,” he explained.
But deputy superintendent of Railway Police Tapan Dey said he had received complaints from many residents about the level-crossing gate being open.
“This may be a rumour, but since such a complaint has been received, we have to check the story,” he added.
Police officials said preliminary investigations revealed that all the six persons involved in the accident were daily wage-earners and residents of the suburbs. Two of them live in Sonarpur and were proceeding to their place of work.
“We have made several appeals to the railways for constructing a flyover at the site. But nothing has been done in this regard,” said a resident.
The residents also demanded posting of additional employees for manning the crossing. They said it was a busy route and 24-hour vigil was required to prevent pedestrians from crossing the tracks whenever the gate is closed.