What started off as a regular day for 28-year-old Syed Arif, turned into a nightmare by 10:30 am. As usual, Arif boarded his regular Mumbai local from Govandi station and got off at Parel station. As always, the trains were packed and so was the foot over bridge he needed to cross to get to Elphinstone.
But today while Arif was crossing the bridge, all of a sudden chaos broke out as a sea of commuters started rushing for the exit, believing that the bridge was about to collapse and Arif was stuck in the middle of it.
The bridge was so over crowded that it was shaking. While we were trying to get off the bridge it was raining heavily. Because of the rain, the stairs were slippery and people started falling on the stairs but no one stopped moving.Syed Arif, survivor
Those who fell couldn’t get up. A few people got pushed into the railings on the side and suffocated and died, some fell off the stairs and died. We somehow escaped and started helping move the bodies of people fallen on the road and realised two of them belonged to my relatives.Syed Arif, survivor
While Arif had a lucky escape, his two cousins were not so fortunate. Both suffocated to death on the same bridge they took to get to work for nine years. About 56 people caught in the stampede were rushed to KEM Hospital immediately for treatment.
22 people died. Most of them were declared dead on arrival at the hospital. They had little or no chance.
Sheikh Mohd. Sadiq rushed to KEM Hospital soon after he received a call from the authorities at about 11 am informing him of his brother Mohd. Shakeel’s condition. But once he reached the hospital, he was told that his brother had lost his life.
He used to travel daily from Mumbra station to Parel. He used to leave for work early. Apart from my brother, an uncle of mine too lost his life in this tragedy. Had there been another bridge at the spot, this would not have happened.Sheikh Mohd. Sadiq, family of victim
Mumbai police is probing claims by survivors and eye witnesses that a short circuit caused a loud sound near the bridge, which caused the chaos. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has ordered an inquiry into the incident. But families of the victims are demanding accountability.
“Government knows everything. They know how crowded the trains are, how many people take these trains everyday. Then they should have done something. They should change the train timings and maintain the routine of the trains. They should do something for local train passengers” said an anguished Shahnawaz Alam who lost his uncle, Masood Alam, in the stampede.
With his uncle being the only breadwinner for a family of 6, Shahnawaz’s relatives are now worried about making ends meet.
Many immediate family members are yet to be informed of their loved ones’ death. For Sanjay Kumar Mishra, the toughest task at this point would be to disclose to his brother and sister in law that their 20-year-old son is no more. Sanjay’s nephew, Arun Kumar, moved to Mumbai just 3 years ago and started working at a garment factory.
Initially after I got a call from KEM Hospital, I was told that my nephew will is being treated and he will be alright, but after a while we were told that he is no more. We have not told his immediate family about his death yet, but close relatives are aware.Sanjay Mishra, family member of a victim
The deadly stampede has left the survivors seriously shaken, but most are resigned to the fact that they will once again have to take the same train, get off at the same station and walk along the same bridge tomorrow.
“I’m scared to travel along this route anymore. I will try to get off at a different station because an incident like this cannot be forgotten” said Syed Arif.