If Jitendra Deka had stayed at his seat in the S3 bogie on the Bangalore-Guwahati Express he may not have suffered any injuries. But when the train halted at Chennai Central at 7.05 a.m. on Thursday morning, the 51-year-old got up to brush his teeth.
“I walked over to the washbasin, close to the S4 bogie,” he said. Just then a blast in the bogies ahead shook the train, followed by another. Broken objects whizzed past, injuring the graphic designer from Bangalore in the arms, legs and body. “I managed to jump outside. There was chaos. People were crying and shouting,” he said.
Mr. Deka, who has been classified as ‘grievously injured’, was on his way to Guwahati for his father’s death anniversary. “I was lucky,” he said. “It could have been worse.”
Of the 14 patients admitted to Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, seven underwent surgery, while the others suffered only minor bruises and lacerations, doctors said.
For most of the patients, apart from the shock and their injuries, there was the hassle of trying to communicate in an unknown language in an unfamiliar city. One young man, who was trying to find his injured friend, was part of a group of students from Manipur who had participated in a Karate tournament in Karnataka and were on their way back.
Shabina Parveen, who spoke only Bengali and very little Hindi, stayed close to her brother’s stretcher throughout. She had heard the bomb explode from the train’s bathroom. “The noise felt like it would make all of us deaf,” she said. Though she was unhurt, her brother Shariful Haque was not so lucky.
Many of the patients were alone at the hospital, as their families were in other States. Bimal Kumar Das (43) was on his way to West Bengal after having made a trip to Bangalore for his brother’s medical treatment.
Waiting outside the CT scan room for his turn, he said that both his brother and another person travelling with them had been injured. The father of three, whose family lives in Jalpaiguri, had called them but said it was too far for them to come.
By 3 p.m., P. Pradeep and M. Ramarao had already been at the hospital for several hours. Friends of 29-year-old G. Anjaneyalu, the young men had called his parents and were waiting for them to arrive from Andhra Pradesh. Anjaneyalu was seriously injured and underwent a surgery.
“We heard about the blast and rushed here when we realised that Anjaneyalu had been admitted. We were roommates together in Hyderabad,” said Pradeep, adding that Anjaneyalu had recently moved to Bangalore and was working as a software engineer there.