“I have not seen my brother after Allahabad station stampede”
His tale sounds like a typical Kumbh story except that he doesn’t know its ending yet. Having participated in the last Maha Kumbh, 60-year-old Mithila Prasad Singh left his home in Bihar for Allahabad this past Friday with much excitement. But the journey for “spiritual redemption” turned into an experience of “personal loss” after he lost his brother Girija Shankar during the stampede at Allahabad railway station on Sunday evening.
“I have not seen him after Sunday’s tragedy. I have not been able to locate him anywhere, neither among the dead nor among the injured,” says Singh looking helpless but confident that he will find his brother.
Not sure where to look for his brother, he was at New Delhi railway station asking officials to get the announcement made both at New Delhi and Allahabad railway stations regarding him.
He and his brother were supposed to catch the Prayagraj Express from Allahabad on Sunday night and reach Delhi on Monday morning. After looking for his brother hours after the stampede, when he could not find him on the spot, he finally took one of the trains to Delhi.
“I saw a massive crowd of thousands running and toppling over each other. It is a picture I don’t want to remember; of people crying out for help, bodies lying without anyone to attend. For hours no help could reach the victims at the station….” said Singh, a resident of Dhanarua in Patna district, blaming the Railways administration for its failure to manage a large crowd. He claimed there were not enough trains to deal with the passengers’ rush.
“It was only after the tragedy struck that several special trains were run on Sunday night,” he said, claiming that the stampede was triggered by a change of platforms at the last minute for a Banda-bound train.
The Sunday stampede made him recall another tragedy which occurred during the Maha Kumbh he went to as a child with his father.
Meanwhile, the helpline at New Delhi railway station was abuzz with calls from anxious relatives of those who had gone for the pilgrimage.
The Railway official assigned to take the helpline calls said that out of the hundreds of calls he attended from across the country, none of the callers’ relatives name was there on the list of the dead or injured. Not comfortable with his name being reported he explained the difficulty in dealing with worried callers.
“What are you expected to tell them after their missing relatives name is neither on the list of the dead nor among the injured? It is very difficult to tell them that they should not worry and things will be all right. But I tell them so,” he said while flashing the list of the dead and injured.