A woman and child were trampled to death and eight others grievously injured in a stampede at New Delhi Railway Station on Sunday afternoon. At least nine others were injured.
The stampede was set off by a last-minute Railways announcement switching the platforms from which a couple of Bihar bound trains were scheduled to depart, prompting thousands of passengers from both the platforms to rush to the other one.
In the melee, Soni Kumari (35) — set to travel to Bhagalpur, Bihar, to attend a wedding in the family — and an unidentified 10-year-old boy were trampled to death.
“Both Soni and the boy were dead when they reached the hospital,” said a senior GRP official.
With summer vacations on in schools and colleges, May invariably sees a massive rush of passengers at railway stations every year. This year was no different. The Railways’ announcement interchanging the boarding platforms of the Vikramshila Express (bound for Bhagalpur) and the Sapt Kranti Express (headed for Muzzafarpur) proved the last straw.
“Both the platforms, Numbers 12 and 13, were already jam-packed with passengers,” said the officer.
“With the announcement the passengers all realised they were on the wrong platform and rushed to the other one, creating a stampede-like situation, specially on the foot overbridge that connects the two platforms.”
According to New Delhi Railway Station authorities, a technical snag on a train parked on platform number 15 was to blame.
“The Rajdhani — which was to come at Platform 15 was sent to Platform No 12 leading to the shifting of the Vikramsila Express to Platform No 13,” explained Ashwini Luhani, Divisional Railway Manager, New Delhi Railway Station.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee called the stampede ‘unfortunate’ and ordered a “high level inquiry” into the incident.
“We have to find out whether the accident occurred due to anyone’s fault or if it was an act of sabotage,” Mamata said in Kolkata.
A similar stampede in which five people were killed, occurred at the New Delhi station on November 13, 2004, for exactly the same reason.