Two children were run over by a speeding train while crossing the tracks at Gulabganj railway station near Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday, triggering violent protests and arson in which a railway employee was burnt alive and another was battling for life with serious injuries.
Siblings Mohammad Ali (5) and his eight-year-old sister Icra were crushed to death by a speeding Sampark Kranti Express at Gulabganj station, about 20 km from Vidisha, when they were crossing the tracks in the absence of a foot overbridge from under a stationary goods train, railway sources said.
The tragic incident came on a day when Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presented his maiden budget in the Lok Sabha that included a slew of safety measures.
Sources said the incident apparently occurred as no announcement was made about the fast approaching Sampark Kranti Express, which does not halt at Gulabganj.
Earlier reports attributed to police had said that the children got crushed by a goods train which moved suddenly when they were crossing from under it.
As the news about the tragedy spread, angry villagers disrupted rail traffic by blocking both up and down tracks and then set on fire the station building, trapping Assistant Station Master Sanket Bansal and Point Supervisor Bhagwan Das inside.
A team from the nearby police station reached the spot to control the situation but by then both had received serious burn injuries.
While Das succumbed before he could receive medical help, Bansal was shifted to Bhopal in a critical condition.
Several trains were halted at Bina, Bhopal and Vidisha stations due to the protest which paralysed train services on the busy Delhi-Chennai route for nearly four-and-a-half-hours.
Vidisha Collector Anand Sharma and Superintendent of Police B P Chandrawanshi intervened and persuaded the villagers to call off the protest.
A demonstration was also staged at the Bhopal railway station with protesters demanding registration of a murder case against those responsible for the Gulabganj tragedy.