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Promised free travel, Utkal Express survivors forced to pay for bus journey

A group of 19 passengers had to pay for the bus journey to Haridwar though the Uttar Pradesh government had promised free travel in its buses.

cities Updated: Aug 21, 2017 15:50 IST
Sandeep Rawat
Sandeep Rawat
Hindustan Times, Haridwar
Utkal Express,Train accident,Derail
A group of Utkal Express passengers who reached Haridwar on Sunday morning from Khatauli in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh show the bus tickets they were forced to buy. (Rameshwar Gaur / HT Photo)

A group of passengers of the Utkal Express, which derailed on Saturday, killing at least 20 people, were forced to pay for their bus journey to Haridwar though they were promised free travel by the Uttar Pradesh government.

Fourteen coaches of the Haridwar-bound Kalinga Utkal Express went off the rails at Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district, as a part of the track was missing.

The driver stopped the bus in a secluded area just outside Khatauli and forced us to buy tickets,” said Nihal Singh Chauhan, one of the 19 passengers who reached Haridwar early on Sunday.

The UP government provided free transport to the Utkal Express passengers, Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) managing director Guru Prasad told Hindustan Times.

“There is no question of anyone asking for money and if someone does that they should report it to us at once,” he said.

But, the passengers, all of them from Madhya Pradesh, had tickets to show for the money they paid.

The driver threatened to leave the bus if they didn’t pay for the journey, Shyam Sharma said.

“We were too shaken up and scared. We decided to pay as it was night and eight people in the group were injured. We paid Rs 125 each to the driver,” Sharma said.

They pooled in money for those who had lost their bags and couldn’t buy a ticket.

UPSRTC’s Haridwar in-charge Naresh Sharma said it was unlikely that the passengers were forced to buy tickets. “We will cross-check and inform higher officials if this had happened” he said.

The injured were being treated at a government hospital in the holy city. Haridwar district magistrate Deepak Rawat said money would be provided to those in need.

First Published: Aug 20, 2017 18:03 IST