Looking back at the major events in MP this year, it becomes obvious that this was not a good year for the state. Major tragedies such as the Harda twin-train accident and Petlawad blast will haunt the state for a long time. The year also witnessed the celebration-less completion of CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s ten years in office, with mysterious deaths in Vyapam scam denting his image. But September brought some cheer when Hindi lovers and scholars from across the world poured in to Bhopal to attend the tenth World Hindi Conference, which was organized for the first time in India since 1983. HT looks back at five major events.
A massive blast ripped through Petlawad in Jhabua district on September 12, killing 90 people and injuring 100. The blast was caused by mining explosives stored illegally in the godown in a busy market. The godown had been rented by Rajendra Kaswa, who took up contracts to build wells and was licensed to store explosives. There was suspense for over three months on whether Kaswa, 52, had died in the blast or was absconding. Earlier this month, the state police declared him dead, claiming the DNA of one of the bodies at the site matched Kaswa’s son’s.
Harda train accidents
On the night of August 4, two trains, Janata Express and Kamayani Express, got involved in the worst train accident in the state’s history. The Kamayani Express was headed to Varanasi from Mumbai, while Janta Express was en route to Mumbai from Patna. From the morning of August 4 to the morning of August 5, there was 11 inch rainfall in the 450 sq km collective catchment of Machak and Sayani river, which led to a flash flood that washed away a side of the track passing through Mandla village downstream. The accident claimed 31 lives, with 16 passengers still missing. A total of 17 coaches — 10 of Kamayani and seven of Janta Express — were derailed. The commissioner of railway safety of south central circle, DK Singh later prepared a report on the accident, which concluded that the derailments were caused due to the washing away of ballast and formation soil beneath the track.
Botched-up eye surgeries
MP witnessed a massive botching up of cataract surgeries for the first time. In Barwani, 46 elderly patients lost vision in one eye after undergoing cataract surgeries at a government camp in the district hospital between November 16-21. A team of ophthalmologists from AIIMS concluded that some of the 46 patients may get their vision back. The incident heated up politics in the state. A team of 3 NGOs conducted a parallel probe and said their investigations revealed that out of 86 patients, 66 had lost vision in one eye and three in both eyes.
Vyapam scam deaths
MP hogged headlines because of mysterious deaths related to the Vyapam scam this year. The deaths started with that of Akshay Singh, a TV journalist for a private Hindi news channel, who was investigating corruption in the scam in Jhabua when he died in July from what doctors in a local hospital said was a heart attack. With this incident, nearly 40 mysterious deaths came in the spotlight.
World Hindi summit
In a year dominated by gloomy incidents, the 3-day world Hindi conference held in September brought some cheer to people. Conducted for the first time since 1983, the conference saw the attendance of Hindi scholars from across the country and world. Scholars and writers made scores of recommendations to the government for the promotion of Hindi.