At least 14 people riding on the roof of a train died and 16 were seriously injured Tuesday after they were swept off as the train passed under a low over-bridge in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahajahanpur district, police said.
The accident took place before the train entered Rosa station in Shahjahanpur, 190 km from Lucknow. The enraged passengers set two coaches of an express train afire at the station.
“The roof-riders were mostly aspirants returning after trying their luck at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) recruitment drive in Bareilly today (Tuesday),” said Additional Director General of Police Brij Lal in Lucknow.
Giving details of the killed and injured, D.K.Sonkar, chief medical superintendent of the Shahjahanpur district hospital, said: “While six people died on the spot, eight later succumbed to their injuries.”
Out of the 14 others injured, six were in a serious condition and had been rushed to Lucknow medical college for specialised treatment and care, he added.
Earlier, a number of these aspirants, alleging mismanagement in the recruitment drive, had indulged in arson and vandalism and fought pitched battles with police in Bareilly, around 250 km from Lucknow. The youth targeted bus stations, petrol pumps and other public property.
Around six state-owned buses and several other vehicles were set on fire and several shops were damaged by the agitators.
Since the recruitment drive was to cover 11 states, thousands of aspirants had converged at Bareilly, causing a major congestion at both rail and road terminals.
Since the train coaches were all jam-packed, hundreds of young men climbed atop the Himgiri Express that was on its way to Bihar, from where a large number of applicants had come from.
“The journey went fine up to Shahjahanpur (around 60 km from Bareilly), but as the train left Shahjahanpur and headed for Roza town, the roof-top riders were caught unawares by an approaching low over-bridge. While some of them managed to lie flat and save their lives, others were hit by the over-bridge and fell off the train roof,” said a railway official.
Medical relief was rushed from Shahjahanpur to Roza where the injured were admitted. “Train traffic remained disrupted for some time after which the train moved on, with still a large number of people riding on the roof,” he added.
However, before the train reached Lucknow, local rail officials arranged a special train for those riding on the roof.
“We managed to pick up a few coaches for a special train in readiness at Lucknow to prevent further roof travel during the night that could be even more unsafe,” senior divisional railway manager (operations) Vikas Chaube told IANS.
The Himgiri had reached Lucknow and those still on the roofs were accommodated in the special train to take them to their destinations.
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