It’s 9.30 pm, and 14 hours have passed since an accident at unmanned level crossing no. 45 claimed the lives of 13 children. Traffic is back to normal. A train is approaching, but two bikes, a tractor and a few pedestrians hurriedly cross the tracks.
Seated on his motorcycle, Om Prakash Yadav waits while more vehicles cross over. “Ab risk nahi liya ja sakta (Can’t take a risk now),” he says. Minutes later, a police officer runs towards the spot, but there is no one left to stop.
The crossing is around 4 km away from Dudahi railway station. Railway officials say four passenger trains ply this stretch daily, while over 14,000 residents of Padraun Mudrai village cross it every day to access a community health centre and a road that leads to Kushinagar.
A woman who lives near the crossing says she witnessed the accident. “I could hear a boy saying, ‘Meri didi ko bacha lo (please save my sister)’… Some time ago, a tractor was hit and the driver died here,” she says.
Shiv Shankar Kushwaha, a representative of the village pradhan, says it was his tractor that had collided with a train at this crossing two years ago. “I had complained to railway officials and sought a proper crossing but nothing happened. There is a railway mitra for this crossing but he is often not around,” he says.
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