Lucknow, April 26
Thirteen children were killed when a train rammed into their school van at an unmanned crossing in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district on Thursday morning. With four children battling for life, the toll is expected to rise. Three students and the van driver have been referred to Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das Medical Hospital.Prima facie it appears the van driver, reportedly a minor, was wearing earphones and did not hear the Gorakhpur-Barhni train approach the Dudhi-Bahpurwa railway crossing even as terrified students, all aged between 7 and 11 years, screamed to alert the driver. So did a group of women standing near the crossing, said witnesses. Railway’s ‘Gate Mitra’ Arvind Kumar Bhartiya posted at the unmanned crossing reportedly signalled the driver to halt.The state government has suspended Kushinagar Basic Shiksha Adhikari Hemant Rao and Dudahi Block Shiksha Adhikari Shesh Bahadur for allowing Divine Public School to function without the requisite recognition. An FIR has been filed against the school. Kushinagar Assistant Regional Transport Officer (Enforcement) Raj Kishore Trivedi and Transport Department’s Passenger Tax Officer Ranvir Singh Chauhan have been suspended too for irregularities in issuing a permit to the school van. North Eastern Division CPRO Sanjay Yadav said at unmanned crossings, the onus was on the road user to avoid a mishap. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who visited the injured children at the district hospital, faced an angry crowd at the accident site. The CM directed the Gorakhpur Divisional Commissioner to hold an inquiry and announced Rs 2 lakh as ex gratia to the next of kin of the deceased. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced Rs 2 lakh each for the kin of the deceased. Governor Ram Naik condoled the deaths. Congress Legislature Party leader Ajay S Lallu sought Rs 50 lakh for the affected families.