Wednesday afternoon at the Cottage Hospital in Dahanu saw the relatives of the deceased narrate their tragic tales to the general manager of Western Railway. However, he could only apologise and assure compensation to the victims of the fire that broke out in the wee hours on Dehradun Express.
Ghatkopar residents, businessman Surendra Shah, 68, and his wife Deepika, 63, were in that fateful coach (S3). After reaching Virar, the two had called up their son Nikhil and spoken to him before turning in for the night. Hence, the news of the tragedy, which happened a few hours after their call, and their subsequent death came like a bolt from the blue, family members said.
Expressing their grief before general manager Hemant Kumar, they demanded an answer to the tragedy. “We were shocked to hear about the incident. We rushed to the hospital as soon as we found out. My parents sounded so happy to be going to Baroda for the temple visit, when they called me. This tragedy still hasn’t sunk in,” said Nikhil.
In the adjoining coach of S4, 48-year-old businessman Devi Shankar Upadhyay was one of the casualties. As soon as the fire broke out, Upadhyay pulled the emergency chain and kept at it to stop the train. Hence, he couldn’t escape and suffocated to death. A businessman who operated from the APMC market in Navi Mumbai, Upadhyay was en route to Surat. “My father got on at Borivli. He and his colleague-friend (identified as Mehul) were going for a business meeting. When the fire started, his colleague jumped from the moving train, but my father continued pulling the chain and, hence, couldn’t go out in time,” said Parth.
Surrounding by the grieving relatives, Kumar said, “I apologise for the incident... I can understand your grief and sorrow and I will assure that the compensation reaches the victims and their kin.”