Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge today announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the train mishap in Bihar's Khagaria district and ordered an inquiry into it.
In a statement in the Rajya Sabha, Kharge said he has spoken to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on steps to maintain law and order to facilitate normal train operations.
"On humanitarian grounds an ex-gratia amount of Rs 5 lakh for those who lost their lives and Rs 1 lakh for those grievously injured has been announced," he said.
Responding to members' demands for Rs 10 lakh compensation to the families of the deceased, Kharge said the money being paid was in line with compensation given in recent times.
A speeding express train ran over devotees waiting on tracks to stop it, leaving many persons dead and triggering angry protests by locals who attacked the train driver and set afire its coach besides engine of another train at Dhamara Ghat Station in Khagaria district.
Kharge said "as per the last information, 28 persons got run over and lost their lives and six were injured." He said 27 people died on the spot while another died on the way to hospital.
Expressing deep condolence to the bereaved families and sympathies to the injured, he said, "I have spoken to Civil Aviation Minister to issue directions to Commissioner of Railway Safety to inquire into the matter."
Giving details, Kharge said, "It is informed that today at about 8.33 AM train no 55533 Madhepura-Samastipur passenger and at 8.48 AM train no 55566 Samastipur-Madhepura passenger reached Dhamra Ghat railway station. Both these trains were stopped to give precedence to train no 12567 Rajyarani Express.
"Some passengers got down from the above trains on non-platform side. In the meantime at about about 8.50 AM, Rajyarani Express was passing through Dhamra Ghat station. The loco pilot after passing home signal which was on a curvature saw some persons standing on the track and applied emergency brakes. However, by the time the train stopped, some persons got run over. As per the last information, 28 persons got run over and lost their lives and six were injured." The Railway Minister said: "After the incident the mob at Dhamara got agitated. They burnt few coaches of Rajyarani express. Medical relief train left from Barauni at 9.55 AM for the site. DRM of Samastipur along with his team of doctors and officers started from Samastipur at 10.50 AM and reached the site."