When Bhashish Singh saw off his nephew Malkeet Singh two days ago at Tarntaran Sahib railway station in Punjab, he did not know that the next thing he would hear about him was that his body had been charred beyond recognition.
Malkeet Singh, 23, was one of the 32 passengers killed in the fire that broke out in S11 of the New Delhi-Chennai Tamil Nadu Express early on Monday morning. Malkeet was going along with four friends to Chennai from where he was to catch a flight to Malaysia on Monday night for a job.
Only one friend survived, who informed Malkeet’s uncle about the tragedy.
“How am I going to identify him? His friend told me the bodies in S11 are charred beyond recognition. I didn’t know I had to see this kind of a tragedy in my life,” said Bhashish almost breaking down on the phone.
He has no idea how to get the body. He called up authorities in Nellore, but because of the language problem he could not understand what they were saying. Even after several frantic calls to the helpline number at New Delhi railway station, the authorities had no information to give, except instructing him to call up the railway officials in Nellore.
“Please tell me how I can get the body of my nephew. I will board any train to Chennai to get a last glimpse of my nephew,” added Bhashish, who did not have enough money to catch a flight.
Unlike Bhashish who knows his nephew is dead, there are several others who do not know the status of their relatives.
Twenty-seven passengers had boarded from New Delhi. Of these, nine figured on the list of those who sustained injuries.
Harpreet Singh was another passenger from Punjab on the train, and was bound for Malaysia to find work. At present his phone is switched off and he doesn’t figure in the list of injured, something that has made his sister Jaspreet Kaur very anxious. “I have been calling the helpline, but there is no confirmed information from any helpline. Nobody is telling me whether he is alive or dead.”
Relatives of Zakir Husain, a resident of Aligarh who got berth no. 48 in the train, are still not sure what has happened to him. Repeated calls to the Nellore helpline has not given them satisfactory answers. did not provide them with any satisfying answer. So His brother is now catching a flight to Chennai to find out about him.
G. Jaggannathan had come to Delhi along with A. Hussain to train at the National Co-Operative Development Corporation. He and Mr. Hussain, both of whom are residents of Tirunelveli, were in the S11 coach. While Mr. Hussain sustained minor injuries, there is no news of Mr. Jaggannathan. This is also the fate of Karan Dustt another passenger of S11 who boarded the train from New Delhi.
Anil Saxena, Additional Director General (Public Relations) Railway Ministry, had no good news for the anxious relative of the passengers who were on the S11 coach.
He said the bodies have not been identified yet because they were charred beyond recognition. “The bodies can only be identified by scientific tests. So at present we have got no list of the dead. We only have a list of those who were injured,” he said.
Anxious relatives, who were making frantic calls to the helpline numbers, said the Railway Ministry should at least issue a list of the survivors which could bring relief to several families eagerly waiting for news about their family members.