A few days back, a heart-rending video of a hapless child trying to wake up its mother, who was lying motionless on a platform on Muzaffarpur station, was widely circulated on the Internet. The video had gone viral on social media websites after which several media organisations and prominent personalities shared the video and raised questions about the plight of migrant workers who are being transported to their native places even as the coronavirus stalks through the country.
The Patna High Court last week took suo moto cognisance of the death of the woman on board a train from Gujarat to Bihar after the video of the child fiddling with the dead body of his mother provoked outrage on social media. The Railways responded by submitting an affidavit in the court filed by Sarvapriya Mayank, Principal Chief Security Commissioner, RPF in East Central Railway on behalf of the Union of India.
The affidavit mentioned that the train which was boarded by Wazir Alam, Kohinoor Khatoon and her children and sister Arbina Khatoon(deceased) proceeded from Ahmedabad on May 23, 2020 at 11 PM towards Madhubani. The concerned family had to go to Katihar as Md Wazir was a resident of Katihar.
The train reached Muzaffarpur on May 25 at 3.55 PM. The total time of the travel was approximately 41 hours. The route taken by the train was from Ahmedabad to Ajmer—Gorakhpur—Hajipur—Muzaffarpur. The affidavit mentions that the normal running time on the route, traversed by Sabarmati Express (19165), is usually 43 hours but the Shramik train which was boarded by Arbina Khatoon took lesser time than the normal train, dismissing various reports that claimed that the train took multiple diversions and reached its destination very late.
In addition, the affidavit declared that the lady was disembarked from the train at Muzaffarpur station and she was lying in an unconscious state. Inspector of RPF on duty, Ved Prakash Sharma and Muzaffarpur Station Master was informed about the incident. A requisition memo was sent to Railway Doctor who later arrived at the platform 3 and pronounced the lady dead. Finding no apparent cause of death he advised postmortem examination.
The affidavit clearly mentions that the brother-in-law of the deceased lady admitted that Arbina had died at 12 PM on the same day, meaning 4 hours before the train reached Muzaffarpur station, and after discussing with his relatives on phone, he was advised to get down at Muzaffarpur to proceed to Katihar on some vehicle by road. Xerox copy of the Doctor’s report has been attached with the affidavit.
The statement was made by the deceased’s brother-in-law, in front of the officer-in-charge of GRP and with his wife Kohinoor Khatoon by his side. He also claimed that Arbina had become mentally unstable from some time, adding that her husband had deserted her and she was keeping unwell since a while back.
The affidavit said that there has been no negligence or lapses of any nature on the part of Railway administration and/or Railway officials in discharging their duties at any place.