Utkal express derailed but dreams safe for this visually challenged girl!
First person account of a survivor
Bhubaneswar/Haridwar: Amid cries for help and chaos all around, survivor of the Utkal Express that derailed at Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar, Banita Padhi from Aska shared the shock and horror she experienced. The 26-year old partially blind woman had boarded the train from Bhubaneswar.
“I boarded the Utkal Express from Bhubaneswar and was travelling alone without an escort though I’m partially blind as there was no one in my family to accompany me. This was my first trip alone and that too all the way till Haridwar. I had to appear for an exam of the National Institute for Visually Handicapped (NIVH) in Dehradun.
I was seated in the S1 bogie and was mentally revising what I had prepared for the exam. It was evening time and there was a lot of buzz among passengers chit chatting and talking to each other when suddenly I heard a deafening thud. The bogie sped away and we could feel that the train had derailed. In fact, our bogie overturned too.
Within a few moments, the screams for help, the pandemonium among fellow passengers and the helter skelter of people outside made it feel like the world has come to an end and there’s no way out. For a few minutes I had lost all hopes; all my dreams of a better future, of clearing the NIVH exam and getting skilled in computer applications so I could stand on my own feet despite my visual impairment.
But just as my heart was sinking in despair, some people called out for us to give our hands so they could pull us out from the emergency window.
Some of us were really lucky. Other passengers of our bogie were critically injured. By God’s grace, I was saved and came out safe with just a scar on a hand. But am equally worried about other fellow passengers.
After being rescued, I stood for some time and kept praying for the affected passengers. But since God had given me another chance in life, I followed other passengers towards the nearest railway station. When I reached there I found out there was no train to Haridwar any time soon. But an old couple who were local residents of Khatauli helped me. I think they were Godsent.
They gave me shelter for the night and next morning even helped me board a bus to my exam venue. At last, today I appeared for the exam and did well too. But my heart goes out to all the victims of the disaster.”