Siraj wants minister to ‘take responsibility’ for deaths in train fire

Updated November 01, 2019

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People headed to the Tableeghi Jamaat gathering in Raiwind board a train at Cantt Station on Thursday.—Online
People headed to the Tableeghi Jamaat gathering in Raiwind board a train at Cantt Station on Thursday.—Online

KARACHI: Expressing his deep sorrow over the train fire tragedy, in which more than 70 people were killed near Rahim Yar Khan on Thursday morning, Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq urged the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the incident and ensure exemplary punishment to those responsible for it.

Calling for a judicial probe into the incident, he demanded that the railways minister, Shaikh Rashid Ahmed, take responsibility for the deaths. He asked Prime Minister Imran Khan who he held responsible for the train tragedy.

Addressing a press conference with retired Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed, he also criticised the ‘containerisation’ of Islamabad and the related hullabaloo that had muffled the voice of the oppressed people of India-held Kashmir.

‘Pakistan Railways would provide free travel from Karachi to immediate family members’

Murad orders relief measures

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, expressing his grief over the tragic incident, directed the divisional administrations of Hyderabad, Sukkur, Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas and Karachi to keep close contact with the Railways authorities and the Bahawalpur commissioner to transport back the dead and injured belonging to Sindh.

The chief minister told the commissioners of different divisions of the province that over 40 passengers of ill-fated Tezgam Express hailed from Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas. Their families were running from pillar to post to get firsthand information about their dear ones onboard the train.

He directed Commissioner of Hyderabad Abbas Baloch to set up a special desk in the DC office so that the bereaved families could contact it for necessary information.

He also directed him to make necessary arrangements for shifting of bodies and the injured people from Rahim Yar Khan back to Sindh. The chief minister also issued a similar directive to the commissioners of Karachi, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur.

Mr Shah through his principal secretary Sajid Jamal Abro offered every possible support to the Railways authorities and the Punjab government for retrieval of the bodies from the train and treatment of the passengers with burn injuries.

He said that his government and the people of Sindh were in great shock to see such a huge loss of lives in the train incident. “May Allah save our people and the country from such horrible incidents,” said the chief minister.

Hospital emergency

The Sindh health ministry has asked authorities at all the major hospitals in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur to declare an emergency in their facilities to take care of the victims of the train incident as most of the passengers belonged to Sindh.

An order has been sent to the major hospitals in the three cities. It said many of the victims belonged to Sindh.

“Hence, your are advised to declare emergency or high alert in your hospitals and make all necessary arrangements in the burn wards, including availability of doctors and paramedics and all essential medicines,” said the order.

‘Only 10 of the dead identified’

According to information shared by Pakistan Railways, the total number of passengers in the train was 865.

The two coaches of Tezgam Express in which the cylinder and stove explosion took place were completely booked under the title of ‘Ameer Hussain and Jamaat’.

Passengers boarded these coaches at Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Mehrabpur and Rohri.

Earlier, 610 passengers had boarded the train at the Cantonment Railway Station in Karachi. At Hyderabad, 91 boarded and 106 boarded at Tando Mohammad Khan with 15 joining them at Shahdadpur with five at Nawabshah, 16 at Mehrabpur, 17 at Rohri and five at Khairpur.

Jamshaid Alam, office divisional superintendent Railways Karachi, said that at the City Station here they were doing their best to manage the post-incident crisis. “The list of passengers who died will be shared once we receive it from Multan division,” he said.

He also said that the family members of the deceased or injured who wanted to travel to Rahim Yar Khan would be ‘facilitated’.

“Pakistan Railways would provide free travel from Karachi to immediate family members,” he said.

Regarding the train operations from Karachi, he said that all trains for upcountry would remain on schedule.

On the directions of Chairman Railways Sikandar Sultan Raja, help desks for giving out information to relatives of the passengers have been set up at various railways stations of the country.

The help desk numbers, including personnel numbers, are as follows: Karachi: 021-99213528, Hyderabad: 0300-3026200, Sukkur: 071-9310087, Multan: 061-9200382 and 0311-4403720 (DCO Multan), Rahim Yar Khan: 0302-7245600 (Station Master Maqbool) and 0300-8679357 (TCR Hasnain), and Lahore: 042-99201795.

Details from Hyderabad

The upcountry Tezgam had arrived from Karachi at 8.35pm on Wednesday night and with a five-minute stop it left for Punjab at 8.40pm.

People kept visiting the railway station to get information about passengers who had boarded the train at Hyderabad.

Railway officials on Thursday afternoon displayed a list of those injured and those who lost their lives following the tragedy in Rahim Yar Khan.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2019