| Villagers at the accident site of the Dibrugarh Rajdhani on Wednesday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
June 25: For Anil Kumar Dey, life changed in a day.
A passenger of Dibrugarh-bound Rajdhani Express, the 78-year-old retired railway employee lost his 65-year-old wife Shefali Dey in the derailment around 02.11 hours near Chhapra on Wednesday. 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’s body — trapped in the compartment — from early morning. The relief and rescue team of the National Disaster Response Force brought it out around 10am.
The septuagenarian was rescued by the villagers. “Thankfully, 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 enough,” he said.
If Dey knew what he had lost in the accident, thirteen-year-old Mauli Dhawan had no idea that 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 people who could not survive the Rajdhani Express accident.
Mauli, however, looked normal. She even smiled at times at some of the shutterbugs.
The doctors on duty were worried about her. “Two of her relatives are nursing injuries in a different ward. Her brother is admitted 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 Chitaranjan Mazumdar, a resident of Barpeta in Assam. Behind him was his wife Nirupama, busy with her cellphone calling her relatives and friends.
“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.” Chitaranjan told The Telegraph.
Jeetendra Nath Burman, another resident of Barpeta in Assam, suffered minor injuries like Chitaranjan, but the trauma was writ large on his face.
“I was sleeping on an upper berth when the train shook hard. I thought it was an earthquake. It was very frightening and I thought this was the end of all. I fell off and was hit on the back by a seat. The scene of so many compartments off tracks is still haunting me,” the retired bank manager said sweating, in the absence of ceiling fans and proper air-conditioning.
On another bed, Kavita Saikia was lying worried. Her husband Achinta Saikia looked critical.
“I am so alone suddenly. We had gone to Delhi for the treatment of my husband. He has is a heart patient. I am trying to call up my family but not getting through to them. Can you help me, please!” she said with moistened eyes.
The 12236 Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express derailed between Chhapra Kacheri and Goldenganj around 2.11am. The train had stopped at Chhapra before the accident and departed at 2am.
The engine of the showpiece train derailed 100m ahead of a level crossing, around 2km from Chhapra Kacheri station. The Goldenganj station was still 5km away.
Besides the engine, nine AC three-tier sleeper coaches and the pantry car derailed completely. Another coach just came off tracks.