Doon Exp fire: Passengers recount haunting moments

A hapless mother`s cry for help will forever haunt Minati Sarkar, a passenger in the ill-fated B-1 coach of the Doon Express that caught fire.

Updated: Nov 22, 2011, 22:53 PM IST

Howrah: A hapless mother`s cry for help will
forever haunt Minati Sarkar, a passenger in the ill-fated B-1
coach of the Doon Express that caught fire along with another
coach, leaving seven passengers dead.

"I cannot erase the cries. There was fire in one part of
the coach. I heard the children cry mummy! mummy! Their mother
also ran around crying for help. It will haunt me throughout
my life," a sobbing Minati told agency after arriving at the
Howrah station with 11 other injured passengers.
A resident of Raiganj in West Bengal`s North Dinajpur
district, Minati was travelling to Rishikesh with her husband
Parimal, brother Dulal Mishra and sister-in-law Nupur.

"It was around 2:45 am and we were sleeping when I was
woken by someone shouting. I thought dacoits had raided our
coach. Then I heard a woman shouting that the coach had caught
fire," she said.

The 59-year-old housewife, who suffered injuries in the
chin, said she was hurt while jumping out of the train. "It
was pitch dark. I blindly jumped out of the door and landed on
a dry drain beside the tracks. We stood helplessly as we saw
the flames engulfing the two coaches."

Minati said the passengers had to wait for four hours in
the middle of a jungle before help arrived.

"The Railways should have responded faster. Our biggest
difficulty was to let our families know that an accident had
occurred and we were safe," she said.

Asked whether she would be willing to undertake a train
journey in future, she said, "I pray to God that I may never
have to travel by train again."
While the passengers were relieved at reaching home, it
was an endless wait for Ichhapur resident Ashok Chakraborty
who arrived at the Howrah station looking for his
brother-in-law Swami Nirvikananda, a monk with the Divine Life

Chakraborty, who heard of the accident this morning, was
trying to contact the Swami over phone but without success.

"I spoke to my brother-in-law for the last time at around
9:30 pm. He had boarded the train and said everything was all

The ordnance factory worker was informed at the helpline
that his brother-in-law`s name was not in list of those dead.

"I managed to talk to one of his fellow passengers who
told me that he had not seen him since last night. If he were
among the dead, it will not be difficult to identify him as he
is wearing saffron robes. But I still do not have any news."

Interestingly, Nirvikananda embraced monasticism after
miraculously escaping death in 1978, Chakraborty said.

As soon as the passengers arrived at Howrah Station by the
down Doon Express, they were whisked away in battery-operated
golf carts, wheel-chairs and stretchers to the station
manager`s room, where they were given medical attention and

Each of them were given Rs 25,000 in keeping with Railway
Minister Dinesh Trivedi`s announcement earlier today.

Chief Health Director, Howrah, Dr A K Saha said none of
their injuries were of a serious nature.

"They have simple injury. But more than that, they are in
mental and psychological shock," Saha said.