Citizens rushed to help the injured at Elphinstone Road

“Who wants to travel in the bullet train when there is no safety at a basic level?”

September 29, 2017 11:08 pm | Updated September 30, 2017 12:56 am IST

Elphinstone Road stampede witnesses: (from left) Manisha Chauhan, Dhanashree Dagne and Ramesh.

Elphinstone Road stampede witnesses: (from left) Manisha Chauhan, Dhanashree Dagne and Ramesh.

As often happens in troubled times in Mumbai, the Elphinstone Road station stampede saw ordinary citizens stepping up to help. Hundreds of commuters and people form the neighbourhood chipped in to do what they could.

Eyewitnesses and a few of the survivors who spoke to The Hindu said that they saw no railway officials helping the injured passengers.

Manisha Chauhan, who lives in the railway quarters near the foot overbridge (FOB), said that she had been on the FOB just minutes before the tragedy. “There was a huge rush. I normally take half a minute to cross, but it took me 10 minutes this time. I had barely reached home and looked out, and I saw a few people carrying out dead and injured passengers. It was very scary; I would have been one of [the victims] if I had been there a few minutes later.”

Ms. Chauhan said that she and her neighbour, Dhanashree Dagne, were weeping at the scene. Ms. Dagne said, “A few women who were rescued from stampede had almost no clothes left on. So we threw down bed sheets to cover them.”

In pictures: Elphinstone Road railway station stampede

Ramesh [who did not give a second name], a retired railway employee, said that he was one of the first to reach the site. “As soon as I heard the screams and loud noise and saw the overcrowded bridge, I immediately went from my home and pulled out a few people from the bridge and helped put them in the ambulance [which was parked near the station].”

Activists and passenger associations accuse the railway authorities of ignoring passengers for years. Kailash Verma, general secretary, Rail Pravasi Sangh, said, “The passengers are forced to use the little space that is available. There is no planning being done by the railway authorities while the number of passengers increases.”

A commuter, who did not want to be named, said, “Who wants to travel in the bullet train when there is no safety at a basic level?” Another said, “Railway authorities should first get an idea of the number of commuters using each station and cater to their safety first before looking at increasing train frequency and speeds.”

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