Killer gap: Sudanese student succumbs: Railways’ poor on-time performance behind 24-year-old’s death?

By Iram Siddique, Mumbai Mirror | Updated: Jul 19, 2018, 06:10 IST

To make up for delay, train departed ahead of schedule, say sources; CPRO denies claim.

Sudanese national , who lost her legs after she fell in the gap between a train and the platform at Dadar on July 12, died of an infection in the early hours of Wednesday, and Railway sources have indicated that the incident could have been avoided had the train stuck to its schedule. The Koyna Express left the platform a full minute earlier than it was supposed to.

Central Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Sunil Udasi has, however, has vehemently denied it.

So, was Abdullah’s death a consequence of the Indian Railways’ inability to follow a schedule?

Railway sources have told Mirror that Koyna Express, the train that Abdullah was alighting from along with her friends on the fateful day, left the platform ahead of its scheduled departure time.

According to sources, the long-distance train, which was scheduled for 7:37 pm, reached Dadar at 8:03:47 pm according to the time-stamp on the CCTV footageaccessed by Mirror. And instead of halting for the requisite three minutes, began leaving the platform no 6 at 8:05:27 pm – it halted for a total of one minute and 40 seconds. More than a minute less than the given time. And these 60 seconds could have been the difference between life and death for Abdullah.

On July 12, the civil engineering student was to go to the airport to fly to Sudan and meet her family after four long years. Her friends had already de-boarded the train, and she was next in line. As she was about to step down, the train began to leave. Juggling her luggage, Abdulla tried to alight but lost her balance and fell in the gap. She was dragged for a while before she could be freed. By then, the train had run over her legs.

“If a train arrives late then it is the guard’s call to depart the train before the halt duration,” said a senior Railway official by way of an explanation.

Train halted longer than it should have, insists CR

When contacted, the CPRO not only outright denied the early departure, but in fact said that the train halted for four minutes.

“We have checked the footage and the train halted as per the train’s halt timing.”

When Mirror prodded him for details and presented the CCTV footage whose time-stamp supports the theory, he did not respond despite multiple attempts to contact him.

Meanwhile, doctors at Sion Hospital said Abdullah died of septicaemia after suffering two cardiac arrests on Tuesday. Her sister and friends buried her at a burial ground in Marine Lines, unable to bear the exorbitant cost of flying her mortal remains back home to the Sudanese capital of Juba.

The bereaved group is ready to take on the fight for justice for Abdulla.

Her sister, Dr Hara Mustafa, who is six months pregnant, has decided to stay back in Mumbai. She, along with a few of Abdullah’s friends are planning to meet Railway and police officials to examine the CCTV footage and get to the bottom of what killed the 24-year-old woman.

Sarah James told Mirror, “We have just buried her and will check the CCTV camerasto ascertain how exactly she died. We were hoping that she will recover and tell us what happened. But now, we have no way of knowing except through the cameras at the station.”

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