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Not a stampede, says railways probe panel

A day after a stampede at New Delhi railway station led to the death of two passengers, the railways have realised there was, in fact, no stampede.

delhi Updated: May 17, 2010 23:57 IST
HT Correspondent

A day after a stampede at New Delhi railway station led to the death of two passengers, the railways have realised there was, in fact, no stampede.

A three-member high-level committee appointed by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee issued a statement late Monday, saying “there was no stampede-like conditions on platform no 12 and 13." Delhi’s railway stations: tracking the story

The committee reportedly watched the CCTV footage of the platforms and found it was “probably some local condition near the foot-over-bridge caused by unfortunate tripping which may have resulted in the unfortunate incident”.

The high level committee comprises Braj Mohan, Additional Member (Commercial), Railway Board, S.K. Malik, Additional Member (Civil Engineering), Railway Board, and P.K.Mehta, Additional Director General, Railway Protection Force, Northern Railway.

The panel’s findings, however, widely differ with what passengers experienced during the mishap. “It looked like a thousand people came charging towards my wife and two infant children. We have lost all our belongings,” said Devanand Yadav (33), a Sapt Kranti passenger.

Bindiya Shankar (23), a Virkramsila Express passenger said: “The railway personnel just kept watching as people trampled women and children under their feet.”

But throughout the day, in an apparent admission of guilt, Northern Railway declared that it would “monitor” the foot-over-bridges and the public announcements at stations from now on.

While monitoring the foot-over-bridges and the stairs leading to platforms will ensure there are no squatters obstructing right of way, the public announcements will “be assessed every now and then to check audibility, clarity and the like”.

“We have decided to take these steps apart from stopping the sale of platform tickets during peak season to decongest the stations and to ensure untoward incidents do not happen again,” said Anant Swaroop, Northern Railway spokesman.

Northern Railway’s internal fact-finding has thrown up these two aspects, which added to the stampede-like situation, sources said. According to the injured passengers, the squatters at the foot-over-bridges blocked the way for most passengers, narrowing the space precariously.

“We had registered a case of death due to negligence on Sunday evening itself and are investigating the matter,” said Bhairon Singh Gurjar, additional DCP (railways).