Scarred by tragedy, children turn mute

Red terror on track: Some are oblivious, some wistful, and some in a state of shock

Scarred by tragedy, children turn mute

A kid who was rescued from the derailed Gyaneshwari Express at a hospital in Midnapore on Saturday. PTI

Saukat Ali, a playful two-year-old who survived the accident with minor injuries, seems to be oblivious of the disaster that struck the passengers of the ill-fated train.  He has become a darling of the hospital nurses in just 24 hours.

“The rescue team found the child sobbing while rummaging through the mangled remains of one of the coaches of the Gyaneshwari Express. They admitted him to hospital with minor injuries on Friday night,” said a doctor at the Midanpore General hospital near here.

“We were not aware of the identity of the child and requested the media to flash his photographs. We are happy that the child has found his uncle who identified the child after watching him on the television,” he added. Hailing from a remote village near Hajipur in Bihar, the child lost his father in the accident while his mother is fighting for her life in the Kharagpur Railway hospital, 25 kms from here.

Clueless and helpless

Six-year-old Rupsa Sheikh, another survivor, is in a state of shock and has stopped speaking after her mother Salma died in the tragedy. The future is bleak for Rupsa, a resident of Kalna in Hooghly district, as her father is also critically injured in the mishap on Friday.

“Her father is critically injured and undergoing treatment at the Kharagpur hospital. His leg has been amputated. We are told there is little hope for his survival. She is refusing to respond after her mother died,” said a nurse attending her.

Aftab Ali Absari, a student of Class X, has a wistful look. His father, Illyas Absari, mother, Israt Bano and five-year-old brother, Alisher, who were travelling to Kolkata from Nagpur, were killed in the accident. “I don’t know ...,” he mumbles when asked whether anyone else he knows at Nagpur has been informed about the tragedy. Another nurse cradles a one-and-half-year-old boy, who was travelling with his father, mother and grandparents to Mumbai. “We know his first name is Myank from railway records. We have no idea what happened to those travelling with him,” says the nurse.

Mamoni Begum, who was going along with her daughter to meet her husband and works as a goldsmith in Mumbai, is yet to trace her daughter even after visiting three hospitals. “Have you seen my daughter? Her name is Nargis?” she keeps asking repeatedly.
Tushar Kanti Das of Arambagh in Hooghly district was taking his newly-wedded wife Kalyani to Mumbai.

“Both died,” his grieving relatives said. The same was the fate of newly-wedded couple Manoj Biswas and Kalpana who were travelling to Bilaspur. Their bodies were found huddled together in the S-4 coach, one of the three worst affected.

The world has come crashing down for the parents of Siddharta Debbnath, of Kalna and a professor of the B C Roy Dental College in Haldia. He was travelling to Mumbai for a new assignment and was to take his wife and four-year-old daughter later. “He was killed,” his father said.

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