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Elphinstone tragedy: Stampede blamegame begins

Published : Oct 3, 2017, 1:50 am IST
Updated : Oct 3, 2017, 1:51 am IST

Stationmaster blames RPF, claims he received call after tragedy began.

23 were killed on Elphinstone FOB after a stampede broke out on Friday. (Photo: AP)
 23 were killed on Elphinstone FOB after a stampede broke out on Friday. (Photo: AP)

Mumbai: The Elphinstone Road railway stationmaster has told the police that the only call he received informing about the stampede on Friday, which killed 23 people, was from a booking clerk at around 10.30 am when the tragedy was already underway. The stampede was already on at around 10.26 am, according to CCTV footage procured by the police. Even as the police said there was a lone Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel on the bridge who failed to respond to the incident or escalate it to higher ups till commuters were crushed to death, Anil Gupta, the stationmaster, said the RPF should have alerted him.

In addition to the 23 who died in the incident, 38 others were injured in the stampede.

The Asian Age reported on Monday about CCTV camera on the bridge capturing an RPF personnel, who was seen standing expressionless a few steps away from the stairway. The footage showed some commuters capturing pictures and footage of the incident around 10.26 am. However, the RPF personnel never informed Mr Gupta about it.

The Dadar police recorded Mr Gupta’s statement on Sunday, in which he revealed that the only call he received, informing about the stampede, was from a booking clerk at around 10.30 am after the incident unfolded.

Speaking to The Asian Age, Mr Gupta said, “The call came from booking (ticket) office on the bridge and I was informed about what had happened. The second call came soon after. I took all the necessary steps soon after and ambulances and force was summoned. The RPF should have informed me in such a situation even though they don’t report to me.”   

When Anup Shukla, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF (western railway) was contacted, he was unavailable for comment. The police has recorded the statement of all the survivors and a couple of officials from the Government Railway Police (GRP).

“Now the process of recording statements of other railway officials will begin. Statements of survivors is completed,” said Sunil Deshmukh, assistant police commissioner, (Dadar).

A television screen to monitor the footage of all the CCTV cameras on Elphinstone Road station and the Foot Overbridges (FOBs) is put up in the cabin of Mr Gupta. However, it proved to be of no help as no one monitored the footage.

RPF personnel, who are trained in disaster management — including crowd management — could not even anticipate a disaster in the offing after the crowd started unusually swelling on the bridge, bringing to the fore glaring lacunae.

Tags: elphinstone road railway station, elphinstone overbridge stampede, railway protection force