A day after two passengers died in a stampede at the New Delhi Railway Station, 20 passengers, including five children, of the Hazrat Nizamuddin-Ernakulam Duronto Express were hospitalised at Kozhikode in northern Kerala after they complained of food poisoning.
“We had bread and omelet for breakfast. The food was stale. Soon, some of us started vomiting. But officials, including the train superintendent, were reluctant to give us a hearing,” a passenger said.
Embarrassed, the railway ministry ordered a high-level probe. “We will take effective measures to avert such incidents,” Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamad said after visiting the affected.
He has also announced a relief of Rs 15,000 for each hospitalised passenger.
This isn’t the first time that such a mishap has taken place. Earlier this month, 26 passengers of the Pune-Nizamuddin Duronto had taken the Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation to court for supplying stale food.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s opponents seized on the issue to embarrass her.
Talking to reporters in New Delhi, BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy blamed the railways minister for dereliction of duty and wondered whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had sent Banerjee on a sabbatical to fight the assembly polls in West Bengal.
Ahamad, however, rushed to Banerjee’s defence, saying that the BJP would miserably fail in its efforts to create divisions among the UPA allies.
In Kerala, activists of the Democratic Youth Federation of India, youth wing of the CPM, stormed Kozhikode railway station and gheraoed the station superintendent.
Meanwhile, the Railways’ ‘prima facie’ conclusion about the stampede says that it was caused because of “tripping” and not on account of the decision to change the platform number of the train.