Indore: Around 3.30am, journalist Santosh Upadhyay made his way towards the heap of mangled metal that was coach S2 of the Indore-Patna express. The sight he encountered caused him to collapse.
Upadhyay had boarded the train from Ujjain on Saturday with a wait-listed ticket, and had been assigned berth no. 7 on the coach by the train ticket examiner. At night, a young lady approached him and requested that he take berth no. 7 on S5, as she and an aquaintance wanted to sit together. Both the women, who said they worked at the SP office in Ujjain, had boarded the train at Bhopal.
Talking to TOI over the phone from his hometown, Allahabad, Upadhyay recalled the mutilated corpses he had seen hanging out of the debris of S2. “It could have been me,” he added. Upadhyay was perhaps the first person to alert the authorities about the derailment, which took place just as he was returning to his seat from the toilet. Upadhyay was checking messages on his mobile phone when he heard a noise and felt the train sway.
A second later, his fellow passengers were being flung from their berths. Upadhyay managed to squirm through the emergency window and landedon the ground, sustaining injuries on his neck and back. The scene outside was horrific. “It was pitch dark and people were wailing. I knew that the train had met with an accident. By instinct, I called Bihar railway CPRO Vinay Kumar at 3.11am,” he said, adding that by 3.17am, he had called the railway control room in Kanpur. Till the security personnel didn’t arrive, those who could come out of the train helped others, said the journalist. “You have seen it on TV, I have seen it up close. The coaches were flattened,” he added.
Upadhyay managed to move away from the train wreck as the sun rose. By evening, he had reached home, yet unsure of how to move on: “The physical injuries can heal, he said, “But what will I do to forget the horror I witnessed?”