“Their screams broke the calm of this sleepy town,” recalls local resident Manoj Baliyan, who after regaining his senses, rushed to the aide of the passengers, some of whom were left perilously caged in mangled train coaches. “In few minutes, we saw the tracks splattered with blood. Passengers were crying in agony, we took small cutting equipment, whatever we could manage, in short time and went to help them,” he said. Incidentally, Baliyan, shared the tragedy as the facade of the entrance of his house was shattered by a mangled coach which had rammed into it. It was pulled away this evening by the railways team, capping a day of dramatic events.
Sumir Kumar, a labourer, said, he heard a deafening thud and soon realised it was a train accident. “I and my friend were retiring from work when we realised what had happened. We went there with cutters and soon many people rushed to the site, with gas cylinders to help in cutting the mangled coach,” he said. But, it wasn’t just the injured and shocked passengers they were bringing succour to, many local youth were helping in guiding traffic or offering water and refreshments to authorities, NDRF rescue teams, and media persons, all of whom spent a sleepless night, even as the town continued to come to terms with the tragedy today.
In hours of disasters, human beings are known to have risen to the occasion, tiding over narrow differences, they may otherwise have. And, this is precisely what happened when the tragedy struck. The Hindus of Jagat Colony and Muslims from Islamabad village pitched in together in rescuing the injured, thus becoming a shining symbol of harmony and unity, in this hour of distress.
Ajay Kushwaha, 31, a local resident, was seen offering water to people the whole night and returned at the break of dawn to watch the track clearance work. Besides, people trickled in from neighbouring Meerut too, some brought food, while others medicine, which they distributed at the hospital. And, it was not just the authorities having a sleepless night here, almost the entire city seems to have lost sleep due to the sheer magnitude of the tragedy, that has befallen this town.
On the fateful Saturday evening, 13 coaches of the Haridwar-bound train derailed near Khatauli station. A huge crowd gathered around the site of the accident, as people from all faiths, congregated, signifying the coming together of a society for one cause.