AS MANY as 14 pilgrims were killed and 48 injured in a stampede on Wednesday morning at the Mughalsarai Railway Station, about 20 kilometers from Varanasi in Chandauli district on Wednesday afternoon.
Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav is expected to visit the victims at Mughalsarai on Wednesday night, senior railway sources said. Most of the dead were women from Bihar who were on way to Varanasi for a religious festival ‘Jivitputrika’. Following the stampede rail traffic remained suspended for a few hours at the busy Mughalsarai Railway Station, Asia's largest Junction.
Most of the injured were admitted to the railway hospital at Mughalsarai and the rest were referred to Banaras Hindu University Hospital in Varanasi. While, 13 bodies were recovered from the platforms, one succumbed to injuries at the BHU Hospital later. Senior civil, police and railways officials rushed to the spot to monitor rescue operations.
The incident occurred at 1.30 p.m., soon after three trains arrived one after the other at the Mughalsarai Railway Station. As the trains were packed beyond capacity, platforms 4 and 5 spilled over with people. Preliminary investigations into the incident suggest that passengers trying to change platforms in a hurry resulted in the stampede.
However, eyewitnesses cited varied reasons that triggered the incident. While a few said that rumours of a live electric wire lying across the platform resulted in the pandemonium, others claimed that last minute changes in the train schedule and platform references was the cause. However, officials denied the claims of last minute change of platforms were done.
“The passengers heard someone crying that curfew was announced in the station which resulted into the stampede”, alleged Panna Devi (42), a resident of Shahpur District (Bihar), who lost five of her family members including her mother-in-law.
Budhvi Devi, who was writhing with pain at the railway hospital held the railway administration responsible for the stampede. Heart-rending scenes were witnessed at the hospital where both the injured and the dead were kept.