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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 July 2024

Tied to train, a tale of 2 fathers: Kanchenjunga Express collision toll rises to 10, tragedies uncountable

A man, who boarded the Kanchenjunga Express to be with his daughter on her birthday, died in the collision on Monday and another father, traveling with his six-year-old girl, lost her on Tuesday

Binita Paul Siliguri Published 19.06.24, 10:01 AM
Police personnel stand guard at the accident site on Tuesday.

Police personnel stand guard at the accident site on Tuesday. Passang Yolmo

The Kanchenjunga Express train crash near Rangapani, Darjeeling district, snuffed out the birthday candles of an eight-year-old girl on Monday.

A man, who boarded the Kanchenjunga Express to be with his daughter on her birthday, died in the collision on Monday. Another father, traveling with his six-year-old girl, lost her on Tuesday.

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With the child no more, the number of deaths, which was nine on Monday, increased to 10 on Tuesday.

Thirty-three year old Subhajit Mali of Ballygunge in Calcutta, died in the train accident as the goods train rammed into the rear of the Sealdah-bound Kanchenjunga Express at Choto Nirmaljote near Rangapani station on Monday morning.

Subhajit was travelling to Calcutta from Assam. He had gone to Guwahati in Assam for business-related work and had told his family that he would stay there for some time.

“But he wanted to surprise his eight-year-old daughter on her birthday on June 17,” said Surajit, the deceased’s brother. “So he boarded the ill-fated train.”

On Tuesday, Surajit reached North Bengal Medical College & Hospital (NBMCH) in Sushrutanagar on the outskirts of Siliguri to take away the mortal remains of his brother.

“He called me early on Monday that he would be home by evening. He was excited about spending his daughter’s birthday. He told me not to reveal his plan to our other family members. He wanted the fact that he was returning home to be a secret as he planned to surprise his daughter by reaching home,” the brother added.

That was not to be.

On Monday, Subhajit’s body was taken with an amputated left leg at the NBMCH. On Tuesday, the doctors at the hospital’s department of forensic medicine confirmed the body part as his.

“Our day of celebration turned into a day of shock and horror,” said Surajit.

Malda resident Manilal Mandal, 41, an injured passenger of the ill-fated train, on Tuesday lost his six-year-old daughter Sneha.

“My wife Chhobi and I, along with our Sneha, paid a visit to my brother-in-law’s place in Matigara near Siliguri. Then, on Monday, we took the train from New Jalpaiguri for home,” said the bereaved father.

He said that as the train started, Sneha wanted to use the washroom. Her mother Chhobi took her there.

“While they were in the train’s washroom, the accident occurred. My child was critically injured. She suffered all through Monday. On Tuesday, her pain was gone, and she was also gone forever,” Manilal wept, adding that his injured wife was unaware of the loss.

NBMCH sources said the injured child had developed a liver infection that proved fatal.

The government hospital was witness to scenes of both grief and relief throughout Tuesday. On one hand, bereaved family members lamented the deaths of their loved ones. On the other hand, families of the injured passengers who swarmed the hospital heaved a sigh of relief to see them alive.

Injured passenger Biswanath Sharma, 68, who was headed home in Krishnanagar, Nadia district, however, said he was not expecting any of his family members to come to the Siliguri hospital.

Sharma, who works as a cook in Tripura, suffered injuries in his legs and chest in Monday’s train collision.

“My son is a daily-wage earner and cannot afford to lose a day’s income. He knows that I met with an accident but doesn’t have money to come here and take me away. Once I am discharged, I will take a bus home,” he said stoically.

Officials of Northeast Frontier Railway on Tuesday confirmed the toll at 10.

“Another 10 persons, who have suffered grievous injuries, are under treatment in different hospitals. The ex-gratia payments have already been made according to the rules,” said a railway official.

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