Two persons died and 15 others, including two women, were injured in a stampede on Tuesday evening on a foot overbridge at Santragachi railway station in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.
Banerjee, who rushed to the station from a Durga puja immersion carnival, blamed negligence and callousness on the part of the railways for the incident.
“Two persons have died in a stampede at Santragachi this evening,” she said.
The two deceased have been identified as Kamlakant Singh and Taser Sardar. While 12 injured were admitted to a hospital, three persons were administered first aid at the station, South Eastern Railway spokesman Sanjay Ghosh said.
Banerjee announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each of the dead persons and Rs 1 lakh each to the injured from the state government.
The Railways also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of those who died, Rs 1 lakh to each of the grievously injured and Rs 50,000 for persons who sustained minor injury.
Ghosh said that “medical expenses for the injured will be borne by the Railways.”
Blaming the incident on negligence and callousness on the part of Railways, the chief minister said there should be more internal coordination to prevent such situation.
“I feel there is a gap in coordination and the Railways should look into it. They should have given some time gap between the arrival of two trains when the passengers have to change platforms,” the chief minister said.
“Such situations occur due to negligence and callousness. The Railways should act in a more responsible way,” Banerjee, herself a former railway minister, said.
The incident occurred when an express train and two EMU locals arrived at the station at the same time at around 6 pm and passengers rushed to the platforms to board the trains, Ghosh said.
The SER spokesman said that presence of passengers of eight trains at Santragachi station, about 10 km from Howrah station, at one time resulted in a heavy rush at the foot overbridge.
“At that time, 12659 Nagercoil-Shalimar Gurudev Express, 68007 Howrah-Belda-Jaleswar MEMU, 18007 Shalimar-Bhanjpur Simlipal Express and 38823 Howrah-Midnapur EMU local had just passed the Santragachi station.
“Moreover, 58015 Howrah-Adra Passenger, 22853 Shalimar-Visakhapatnam Express, 22807 Shalimar-Chennai AC Express and 38917 Howrah-Amta local were about to leave the station,” Ghosh said.
He said that railway doctors and senior officers have rushed to Howrah General Hospital for assisting the state administration.
A large number of passengers either deboarded or were waiting to board trains at the same time, leading to a rush on the foot overbridge.
The chief minister said the Railways did not seek any help from the state government during the festive season for crowd management. Safety and security of passengers cannot be compromised, she added.
In a tweet, Banerjee said, “Another unfortunate incident on railways today. Sadly, too many such tragedies are happening like this even during festive season, including Amritsar.”
“Railways are the lifeline of our nation. Safety of rail passengers must be taken care of at all times,” she said.
Banerjee said the state government will hold an administrative inquiry.
The chief minister went to the state-run Howrah General Hospital, where the injured are being treated, from the station.
“The Railways must take proper care of safety and security of passengers; they should hold an investigation into the incident,” Banerjee told newspersons at the hospital.
Referring to the Amritsar incident, where a speeding train had ran through a crowd of Dussehra revellers killing 59 of them, said “the Railways must be more careful and cannot shirk its responsibility.”
Several express trains stop at the station, apart from numerous EMU locals of SER.
Thousands of people use the station everyday since it is easier to travel to and from south and central Kolkata from Santragachi.
SER spokesman Ghosh said the Railways has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
He said that infrastructure was being developed and modernisation work was in progress at the station to cater to the higher number of trains and passengers at Santragachi station, which has gained importance as some express trains terminate there, to ease pressure at Howrah station.