The scene could not have been more tragic than at Sansarpur ghat, 5 kms from Khagaria along national highway-31 on Tuesday.
With several pyres burning alongside, it was a painful reminder of the accident at Dhamara ghat, where Rajya Rani express plowed into a crowd of pilgrims who were crossing the tracks.
If one pyre had the bodies of a Sangeeta Devi and her infant son Prem Raj, the adjacent one had the body of another 10-year-old son Ram Raj.
Sangeeta's daughter Sulekha Kumari, 13, lit the pyre. Sulekha's father is in Khagaria sadar hospital with grievous injuries. “We have not even informed him about the deaths,” said a relative.
With Rakhi on Wednesday, Sulkeha has been left with no brother. Sulekha's other three sisters are married and living elsewhere. “The tragedy could not be bigger for this small girl, who hardly knows what has struck her family. A quirk of fate has snatched everything from her,” said Subodh Rai.
Rai said, Madhuri, a cook in Jorhat in Assam, had arrived on Sunday night around 2 am by Guwahati-Delhi express and early morning left for the Katyayani temple for the 'mundan' of her two sons.
“The family was very happy, but destiny played a cruel joke with them,” he added, blaming lack of roads as the main reason for the disaster.
The family of Lakhpati Yadav lost four members - son Lakshmi Yadav, daughter-in-law Uma Devi and two nephews, Rambriksha Kumar and Pintu Kumar. All the four were cremated alongside.
“As it was the last Somvari, they wanted to offer prayers. In the absence of any road, there was no other way they could reach the temple except through tracks,” said Rambadan Yadav, a relative of Lakhpati Yadav.
It was a poignant scene at the cremation site, with hundreds of people gathered there. While some were consoling the bereaved families, others were furious over what they felt was a man-made disaster.
“We have had to walk through tracks for decades. Had there been no tracks, we would have been completely cut off. Yet, no attempt was ever made to construct roads. After all, who cares for the poor?” said the locals.
With river Gandak in spate, the villagers performed cremation at Sansarpur ghat, 5 kms from the Khagaria block office.
“Most of the ghats are inundated and so we brought the bodies here,” said Lalan Yadav.