12 people die in separate incidents during Chhath festivities in Bihar
Five women returning after propitiating the sun god were run over by a train in Samastipur, and seven children — three in Khagaria district and two each in Patna and Muzaffarpur districts — drowned in separate incidents.patna Updated: Nov 07, 2016 14:44 IST
Twelve people were killed in three separate incidents across Bihar during the four-day Chhath festivities, which culminated with the morning ‘arghya’ (offering) to the sun god on Monday.
Five women returning after propitiating the sun god were run over by a train in Samastipur, and seven children — three in Khagaria district and two each in Patna and Muzaffarpur districts — drowned in separate incidents.
The death toll could go up as the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was still in the process of recovering the bodies.
Sources said Chhath devotees had erected a ‘ghat’ near a pond close to railway tracks in the vicinity of Samstipur-Rambhadra railway station. The victims were returning after puja when they were caught unawares by the Jaynagar-New Delhi Swatantrata Senani Express, which did not sound its arrival according to eyewitness accounts.
An agitated mob subsequently blocked train movement, demanding Rs 10 lakh compensation and a government job to the next of kin of the deceased. A DMU train was also ransacked and a motorbike at the Samstipur-Rambhadra station set afire by the mob.
Sources said the district administration and railway officials were aware that Chhath puja was being organised at the pond near the Rambhandra railway station for the last several years, but no safety precautions were taken.
Swatantrata Senani Express crossed the spot around 7 am, as it was running almost 12 hours behind schedule. “Had the train been not running more than 12 hours behind schedule, the tragic mishap could have been averted,” said an eyewitness.
Senior divisional commercial manager-cum-public relations officer of Samastipur division, Birendra Kumar, however, claimed that three people — two children and a 55-year old man — were run over by train, and not five women. He said two others, including a woman, had been taken to Darbhanga Medical College Hospital for treatment.
A railway spokesperson here said those crossing railway tracks should be cautious, and that a locomotive driver was not tasked with checking for human movement across railway tracks.