The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Short shrift to the dead

Bhagalpur, Dec. 3: Charges of negligence pounded the railways today, a day after 34 people were killed when a road bridge crumbled and fell on a sleeper coach of the Howrah-Jamalpur Express.

Administration officials and relatives of those killed and injured blamed the railways for turning its back on them. “Look how effective the railway administration is. They have left the site,” said sub-divisional magistrate, Bhagalpur sadar, Dhananjoy Thakur, who was stationed inside the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital.

Relatives waited at the hospital, where bodies were lined up for the autopsy, for orders on the last rites.

“Not a single railway officer is present and only one sweeper of the college is available for taking the bodies to the morgue,” said Md Hiru, a local resident.

It took a reprimand from district magistrate Vipin Kumar to get the Government Railway Police personnel to work. More sweepers were engaged in the afternoon to take the bodies to the morgue, located inside the hospital.

“Who will take care of the bodies' Most high officials are busy with chief minister Nitish Kumar (who was visiting the site),” said a police official.

No railway official was available even today to say why the Ulta Pool, a 150-year-old bridge closed to vehicular traffic since 2002, had not been demolished all these years. A source in the railways blamed the Calcutta contractor assigned the job, as the firm had insisted on dismantling the bridge in phases.

Guddi was one of those travelling on the train with husband Manoj Paswan. Both survived but she saw her two nephews and the family members of her uncle Indradev Paswan die.

“I can still hear the voices of those dying as they shrieked for help,” she said.


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