Deserted streets due to a spontaneous total bandh called by various organisations in Siwan to register their protest over the death of 8 engineering students at a manned railway crossing on Wednesday threw communications haywire yet again, even as Union minister of state for railways KH Muniyappa ordered a CRS probe into the incident early Thursday.
Sensing the tense situation in town, the district administration had turned the entire town into a fortress with police reinforcements to quell the potential for trouble. No business establishment or educational institution was open, even as traffic kept off the roads.
Such was the situation, highly unpredictable and tense, that the railway administration called off a proposed visit to the families of the 8 who died when the Howrah-Kathgodam Express crashed into their college bus on Wednesday afternoon. The minister accompanied by railway officials of the North Eastern Railway, under whose jurisdiction the site of occurrence falls, made a short visit to the place of collision at 3:30am after visiting the 10 injured admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital, close to midnight.
Back from the site, the minister discussed follow-up actions with officials at Siwan railway station and directed the divisional manager to prepare a proposal to build two road over bridges at Chap Dhal (site of occurrence) and Siwan. The minister said the railways had mooted a proposal to man all the unmanned gates by 2015. He announced that expenses on the treatment of the injured would be wholly borne by the railways.
Amit Kumar Singh, NE Railway's chief spokesperson, told HT, "The railways has ordered a CRS probe into the collision at the manned railway crossing". He said action would be taken after the CRS inquiry report was received.
The irate villagers had set 9 coaches of the train ablaze late Wednesday night to protest the incident and disallowed fire brigades from putting out the fire.
According to official sources, Siwan district administration, following the directive of chief minister Nitish Kumar, announced a financial assistance of R50,000 each to the kin of the victims.
Siwan district magistrate G Meena said 8 students who were crtically injured died on the spot or on their way to the PMCH on Wednesday.