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Stampede at Kolkata railway bridge, Mamata connects with Amritsar rail tragedy

Kolkata: The day, Kolkata was in a celebration mood because of the much awaited Pujo Carnival, which showcases the best idols along with their tableaux, the news of a stampede on a railway foot over bridge at the Santragachhi Railway station got marred the festive mood and got all the national media coverage.

During the stampede at least two people were killed and 17 injured on Tuesday evening. Allegedly, the announcement via the public address system about the simultaneous arrival of trains on the platforms connected by the over bridge led to an unexpected rise in the number of the over bridge user. Kala Kant Singh, aged 32, resident of Kolaghat, East Midnapur and Taser Sardar, aged 61, resident of Nasirpur, Murshidabad has been declared dead.

However, this time Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was not on receiving end. She had earlier earned public flak for the non maintenance of the bridges in the state, when the Majerhat bridge had recently collapsed.

She tweeted after the incident and connected it with recent Amritsar train tragedy where a train had run over 60 Dussehra revellers.

Following the unfortunate incident the railway authorities issued a press note which stated that overcrowding at Santragachhi station as the main reason behind the accident. They also mentioned that an inquiry has been initiated.

As per the initial report, about 6 pm on Tuesday evening, about 17 passengers suffered injury and while many fell ill at the Santragachhi station due to overcrowding of the foot bridge. Initially the injured passengers were taken to the Santragachhi Rail Health Unit. Later, they were shifted to the Howrah General Hospital.

At that time, 12659 Nagercoil-Shalimar Gurudev Express, 68007 Howrah-Belda-Jaleswar MEMU, 18007 Shalimar-Bhanjpur Simlipal Express and 38823 Howrah-Midnapur EMU local had just passed the Santragachhi station.

Moreover 58015 Howrah-Adra Passenger, 22853 Shalimar-Visakhapatnam Express, 22807 Shalimar-Chennai AC Express and 38917 Howrah-Amta local were about to leave the station.

Presence of passengers of eight trains at the same time resulted in a heavy rush at the Santragachhi station’s foot bridge.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal in a statement announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh to the injured during the stampede. Those who have sustained minor injuries would be given Rs 50,000 as compensation, the railway minister announced.

Bengal Chief Minister, who visited the hospital where the injured were being treated, too announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh each to those injured. The state government has assured that an investigation would be initiated. She has also assured to extend help to the railway authorities if they approach for it.

Santragachhi incident is a reminder of the tragic incident that occurred at Mumbai’s Prabhadevi station, almost a year back on September 29, 2017, which had killed 23 people. The stampede took place on a footbridge at the suburban Prabhadevi railway station, formerly known as Elphinstone station, which connects two of Mumbai’s major suburban lines. The stampede occurred due to overcrowding and the rains, which had made the bridge slippery.

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