MEERUT: With a saffron cloth tied around his neck, Saint Bhagwan Das Maharaj appreciated the efforts of Muslims who help them when the Kalinga Utkal Express near Khatauli in UP went off the rails.
“I remember my head bumping into the seat in front of me, throwing me at least two feet forward. I was in pain and could hear screams from all directions. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for Muslims in the area who rushed to the spot and pulled us out of the train’s coach, we might not have survived,” he told TOI.
According to reports published in Times of India, Sadhu Bhagwan along with six other ascetics had boarded the Utkal Express from Madhya Pradesh’s Morana and was going to Haridwar to take a dip in the holy waters of Ganga.
When the village heard a sound like a bomb blast after the train derailed, Muslims from the area rushed towards the tracks to help them.
Saint Bhagwan said Muslims not only brought cots, ladders to pull them out one by one but also arranged local doctor who administered first aid before they were rushed to a hospital for further treatment.
“They brought us water, khaats and arranged for a private doctor for us. We will never forget this gesture,” he added.
“We believe in God and we saw his power soon after the accident. There are times when people politicize Hindu-Muslim ties, but there has always been love between the two communities,” said Morni Das, another saint.
Three saints were injured and were rushed to Meerut’s Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial (LLRM) Medical College to undergo treatment.
Mohammad Salim of Khatauli’s Nayi Abadi village told The Indian Express, “People were screaming bacha lo, bacha lo… Four women are still trapped… I saw them in the evening, but I could not save them,” he said.
The Railways put the death toll in the derailment of the Utkal Express at 23 and said 97 passengers were injured.
Out of the 97 injured persons, 26 passengers are grievously injured while 71 have simple injuries, the railways said in a statement.
Fourteen coaches of the high-speed Utkal Express yesterday jumped the rails, with one of them crashing into a house adjacent to the track.
With agencies input