M A I N   N E W S

2 dead in stampede at Delhi railway station
Syed Ali Ahmed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 16
Mismanagement of operations by the Northern Railways this afternoon led to a stampede at New Delhi Railway Station, killing two persons, including a child, and injuring nine. The injured have been admitted to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash and Ram Manohar Lohiya Hospitals. All are stated to be out of danger.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased. Those who are seriously injured will be given Rs 50, 000 and those with minor injuries Rs 15,000. Incidentally, reacting over the incident, she has blamed the public for the stampede. “It is not the failure of administration. People are responsible for such chaos. It is difficult to control such a situation,” she told journalists in Kolkata.

In all, it was the stampede at an overbridge following the announcement of last-minute change of platform for two Bihar-bound trains - Saptkranti Express for Muzaffarpur and Vikramshila Express for Bhagalpur - that led to the unfortunate incident.

Saptkranti scheduled to depart from platform number 13, was diverted to platform number 12; and Vikramshila from platform number 12 to platform number 13. Both platforms are located opposite each other. The stampede happened at the staircase leading to the platforms.

“I lost my luggage and shoes. I fell amidst 10 people and felt as if I was about to die," said a Bihar-bound passenger while another said the platform numbers were interchanged for the two trains but no prior announcements were made. “That’s what caused the stampede," he said. The Delhi Police confirmed what the passengers alleged. Police officials also said the stampede took place after last-minute changes in the platform numbers of the trains.

“Interchange of trains between platform number 12 and 13 caused this stampede. Senior officers are investigating the incident. The announcement of change in platform and passengers rushing to other platforms led to the incident. A woman from Bhagalpur is among the dead victims,” said Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat.

Majority of the victims were women and children. Adding to the chaos were porters, who had blocked the passage, leaving no space for those trying to come down the stairs to find the way.

The police received a call about the incident at around 2.50 pm and it activated the rescue operation mechanism.

Hundreds of passengers are still stranded at the platform. Amid the confusion that prevailed after the incident, passengers could be seen trying to ask others whether they could use their confirmed ticket on other trains.

The Railways has also ordered an inquiry in the incidence. Deputy Railway Manager (DRM), Ashwini Lohani, said the inquiry would ascertain the exact cause behind the incidence. He said alternative arrangements would be made for passengers.

Anil Kumar, who had to board the Vikramshila Express from New Delhi to Bhagalpur, is still reeling under the shock. He said people fell down from the stairs of the bridge on the people sitting on the platform. His 10-year-old Ashish, too, was injured in the incident.

Another passenger, who had to board the train for Muzaffarpur, said his three-year-old daughter Annu was still in a state of shock after the incident. “Handcarts loaded with luggage had chocked the platform, which was also among the reasons behind the stampede. When the incident occurred, there was no security at all,” he said.





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