The Railways on Tuesday blamed the Bihar government for the train disaster at Dhamara Ghat in Khagaria district and said that actually 28 persons died in the accident, instead of 37 put by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and nine others were injured.
"Probably he (Nitish Kumar) mixed up the figures of death and injured to say that 37 persons died in the mishap at Dhamara Ghat in between Saharsa and Mansi section of Samastipur division yesterday," Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told reporters at Patna airport.
Chaudhury had visited the accident site past midnight last night and also met the injured in the hospital at Khagaria this morning before returning to Delhi via Patna. Asked who is to blame for the Rajyarani Express mowing down the pilgrims, the minister put the blame on the state administration. "The local administration did not alert the Railways about the large congregation of pilgrims for the mela (fair) at the Katayani temple so that we could have taken some measures," Chaudhury said.
"There was no proper coordination by the local administration with the Railways for making the necessary arrangement in view of the fair at the temple on the last Monday of Shrawan," he said. The minister said that the state government gets so much of funds from the Centre under the Prime Minister Gramin Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) from which it could have constructed a road to this remote place, which is non-existent now.
The Bihar CM had on Monday dismissed any lapse on the part of the state administration. Kumar, who had talked to Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge immediately after the accident and was in regular touch with the General Manager of East Central Railway (ECR) zone, Madhuresh Kumar, had said it was a matter of probe whether speed restriction was ordered considering that the day was the last Monday of Shravan and a large crowd of pilgrims was expected.
The Railways has announced Rs 5 lakh compensation for the kin of those dead and Rs one lakh for the injured. The Bihar CM has declared Rs 2 lakh each for the families of the dead. Out of this, Rs 1.5 lakh will be provided by the state government and the rest Rs 50,000 from the CM's relief fund.
Meanwhile, General Manager of ECR Madhuresh Kumar told reporters at the Jaiprakash Narayan Airport at Patna that train services had resumed in the Saharsa-Mansi section late last night. Chief Public Relation Officer of ECR Amitabh Prabhakar said that 15210 Saharsa-Amritsar express ran through the section around 1 am last night. The GM said that except for the Patna-Saharsa Rajyarani Express, now other trains would run in the section normally onwards. Since coaches of the Rajyarani Express had been burnt by a mob after the incident, it would take time to arrange coaches of the single rake train to resume its services, he said.
The GM said that the two drivers of the Rajyarani Express - Rajaram Paswan and Sushil Kumar Suman - who had fled the scene after being badly beaten up by the protesters, are safe and undergoing medical treatment. The ECR CPRO said that while 15 coaches and engine of the Rajyarani Express had been torched by the protesters, 5 coaches and the engine of the Samastipur-Saharsa passenger train were set on fire after the mishap.
The GM said that the MOS gave an instruction to install public address system at the Dhamara Ghat station to alert people against approaching trains to avert such accidents in future. Meanwhile, an FIR has been lodged with the Government Rail Police, Mansi against unknown people for torching the two trains and indulging in violence. The FIR was lodged on the basis of a statement of station minister of Dhamara Ghat Vijay Kumar Verma, Railway Superintendent of Police Jitendra Mishra told PTI.
Khagaria Superintendent of Police S K Jha said the situation was normal in the place and train services restored in the area. A Saharsa report said that the burnt Rajyarani train has been brought to Mansi railway station and the same was being done to the Passenger train also.
Meanwhile, due to cancellation of the Saharsa-Patna- Rajyarani Express, people were facing a lot of hardship in commuting to the state capital and other places. Bihar minister Renu Kushwaha on the direction of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has gone to Khagaria and met the injured in the hospital.