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Mamata Blames Railway Passengers For Stampede

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday blamed the public for the stampede at New Delhi Railway Station win which at least two people were killed and 15 others injured."It is not the failure of the
PTI May 16, 2010 20:09 IST

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday blamed the public for the stampede at New Delhi Railway Station win which at least two people were killed and 15 others injured.

"It is not the failure of the administration. People are responsible for such chaos. It is difficult to control such situations," said Mamata in Kolkata.

Mamata's statement came just a few hours after the stampede, which took place after the Railway authorities changed the platforms of the trains without making any formal announcement.

Mamata also ordered an enquiry into the stampede after announcing a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased. Those who are seriously injured will get Rs 50,000 while Rs 15,000 will be give to those with minor injuries.

She also instructed officials to ensure that strict action is taken against those responsible for the stampede.

A three-member committee will be set up for enquiry into the incident. The committee will comprise of Senior Divisional Commissioner, Operating Commissioner and Senior Divisional Commercial Manager.

Northern Railways General Manager SK Budhalakoti confirmed that a high level enquiry has been ordered into the incident and added that over crowding and heavy rush led to the stampede.

The stampede occurred at around 1450 hrs IST on Sunday as soon as the Bihar Sampark Kranti Express arrived on Platform No. 12. The train was scheduled to depart from Platform No. 13. However, the platform was changed minutes before departure with any announcement by the railway authorities, alleged the passengers.

"I left my luggage and my shoes. I fell amidst 10 people and felt as if I was about to die," said a Bihar-bound passenger.

"The platform numbers were interchanged for two trains but no announcements were made. That's what caused the stampede," said another passenger.

Delhi Police also said the stampede took place after last minute changes in the platform numbers of the trains.

"Interchange of trains between platform number 12 and 13 caused this stampede. Senior officers are investigating the incident. The announcement of change in platform and passengers rushing to other platforms led to the incident. One women from Bhagalpur is among the victim," said Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat.

Railway officials said one of those killed is a 35-year-old woman while the other casualty is young boy.

Meanwhile, the BJP on Sunday criticised Mamata Banerjee over the stampede at New Delhi Railway station, saying nothing better could be expected from an "absentee" Railway Minister.  "BJP feels the Prime Minister owes an explanation to the indifference and absenteeism of the Railway minister," party spokesman Rajeev Pratap Rudy said.  He said the death of innocents at Delhi railway station is "inexcusable and unpardonable".

 "Nothing better is expected from an absentee Railway minister. While the system and administrative failure has led to virtual collapse of Railways, the minister prefers politics to work unleashing death and misery to poor passengers," Rudy said. 

The Congress described the incident as unfortunate but defended Banerjee.  "It is sad and unfortunate... But I want to ask the BJP what can a railway minister do in such an incident. It is upto the officials in-charge of the the station and other railway officials to supervise the crowd in the rush season," party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said. 

He, however, said that "the railway minister should take note of the tragic incident".  The Congress spokesman said that special arrangements should be made by the Railways for the peak season when the schools are closed and people go on holidays.  "It should be ensured that such unfortunate incidents are not repeated," Ahmed said. PTI