At least 28 Hindu pilgrims were mowed down on Monday by a speeding train when they were crossing the track at a railway station in Bihar’s Khagaria district, triggering anger among devotees and locals who lynched the train driver and set ablaze six coaches.
Officials had earlier put the death toll to 37, but later Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge revised the figure to 28. The incident occurred at Dhamara Ghat railway station in Samastipur division of Bihar at about 8.33 am when the pilgrims who were passengers of two trains alighted at the station and tried to cross the track.
Suddenly, the Rajya Rani express train appeared and before the driver could apply the emergency brakes, the pilgrims got crushed under the wheels. Bodies lay mangled on the railtracks.
Kharge said, “As per the last information, 28 people were run over and lost their lives while six were injured.” He said the Madhepura-Samastipur passenger train heading towards Samastipur had halted at the station and minutes later at 8.48 am the Samastipur-Madhepura passenger train heading towards Madhepura too was stopped to give precedence to Rajya Rani express. Kharge said the driver of Rajya Rani train saw some people standing on the tracks and applied the emergency brakes.
He also announced a relief of Rs 5 lakh for the next of kin of the dead and Rs 1 lakh for the injured. The incensed pilgrims and locals set ablaze six coaches, including one AC coach, of the train.
The angry crowd also attacked railway officials. Two train drivers were mercilessly beaten up, leaving one dead and the other battling for his life. Some railway officials were also held hostage.
Chief Public Relations Officer of ECR Amitabh Prabhakar said, “The rescue team along with railway officials has reached the accident site.”
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the kin of each of the victims. According to officials, the pilgrims were going to nearby Katyani Sthan temple to offer holy water to Lord Shiva on the fourth and final Monday of the holy month of shravan when the mishap took place.
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Indian Railways, with over 1.4 million employees, aims to eliminate accidents by 2020