Mumbai: A day after 22 people died in a stampede at Elphinstone railway station's foot-over bridge here, MNS Raj Thackeray - on Saturday - warned that he won't allow a single brick to be placed for bullet trains till the present railway infrastructure improves.
Thackeray trained his guns on authorities of Indian Railways and blamed them for Friday's unfortunate incident. "It is not the first time that it rained in Mumbai. They (Railways) say it happened due to rains. Until present infrastructure of local railways is made better, not a single brick will be allowed to be placed for bullet train in Mumbai," he said at a press conference.
Some like Thackeray have spoken out on India's plans of having its first bullet train - between Ahmedabad and Mumbai - at a time when the existing infrastructure is in need of an urgent revamp. Friday's stampede has only highlighted the need to fix existing facilities as the foot overbridge at the Elphinstone station was too narrow to cater to the large number of passengers. The tragedy took place amid rain in the city when the foot-over bridge was heavily crowded.
Thackeray though went beyond just targeting the need for bullet trains and said gross negligence leading to deaths is inexcusable. "Why do we need terrorists or enemies like Pakistan? It seems our own Railway is enough to kill people. "A list of issues related to Mumbai local trains will be given to Railways on 5th of October with a deadline. If things don't get better, we'll act on our own," he said.
A PIL has also been filed in the Bombay High Court by local resident Pradeep Bhalekar seeking that railway officials be booked for negligence and culpable homicide.
Meanwhile, Western Railway has decided to not celebrate Dussehra in the aftermath of the tragedy. "All our staff, officers are saddened and they have spontaneously taken a call not to celebrate Dussehra," chief spokesperson of Western Railway Ravinder Bhakar said.
Local hospital authorities also said that bodies of 17 of the 22 killed have been handed back to their relatives. Out of the 39 injured, two are in a critical condition, with one of them being kept on a ventilator at the KEM hospital in Parel.
(With agency inputs)