A four-member Railways committee has begun probing into Tuesday’s stamped at the Santragachi railway station. The committee is headed by Principal Chief Engineer (SER) J N Laldas, and comprises Principal Chief Commercial Manager (SER) P K Sahu, Prinicipal Chief Security Commissioner (IG) S C Parhi and Chief Safety Officer (SER) G K Dwivedi. They visited the site Wednesday and also interacted with people in the area, Railways officials and passengers admitted at the hospital.
“As such there was no one present to control the crowd on the footover bridge (FOB). People were pushing each other when the trains’ arrivals were being announced. I was lucky to escape. The moment I reached the platform, people started screaming from behind,” said Madhurima Chandra, a beautician.
Also read | Santragachi FOB stampede: ‘We couldn’t breathe’
According to her, she could see only four to five constables of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) on duty at the time. The stampede broke out when three trains arrived almost at the same time. Two persons were killed and 12 others were injured. Government Railway Police (GRP) received a complaint from a passenger following which an FIR was filed against unknown people.
“We couldn’t regulate (the crowd) because there were not enough people on duty. This is not a temporary problem. There is about 20 per cent vacancy in the RPF,” said Inspector of Special Intelligence Branch Pramod Kumar, who was involved in the rescue. “About 30-40 RPF personnel reached the spot within 10 minutes and rescued people.”
South Eastern Railways CPRO Sanjoy Ghosh said, “There was sufficient railway police in the station. The incident is being probed. Whatever suggestion they give, we will follow. Passengers security and safety are our prime concern.”
When asked about the alleged lack of police personnel, Subhash Chandra Parhi, a member of the inquiry committee, said, “Normally, it is not a very crowded station. Accordingly, RPF personnel were there on-duty which I think was sufficient for any other day but suddenly there was too much crowding on the FOB due to which the incident took place. We are examining the cause.”
People in the area claimed that the foot-overbridge was constructed many years ago. While the number of trains stopping here increased every year the infrastructure remained same, they said.
As per officials, Railways is constructing another FOB at Santragachi which will be 12 meters wide while the present one is only 2.8 meter wide. “Two FOBs are part of the infrastructural development project for Santragachi. The construction of one FOB had already started; due to some legal issues the project got delayed. This will be complete by next year,” said the CPRO.