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I heard no sound of blasts: TTE

By Archana Jyoti in New Delhi
February 20, 2007 20:16 IST
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Shaukat Ali, a train ticket examiner on board the Samjhauta Express which was rocked by twin blasts, on Tuesday said he heard no sound, and the ill-fated coaches caught fire gradually turning into a fireball.

"I was checking the tickets in the reserved coach when the train stopped suddenly," a visibly disturbed 42-year-old Ali who escaped unhurt in the explosion that has claimed 68 lives and injured several others, told PTI in Delhi.

Confused, he along with other passengers of the sleeper coaches immediately got down to ascertain the reason. To their utter shock, he said, they saw fire emanating from one of the general bogies from the rear end of the train.

"I could see fire spreading to the adjacent coach and soon it turned into a huge fireball. It was a ghastly scene with passengers running for safety. Those who were trapped inside the bogies that caught fire were haplessly crying for help,"
recalled Ali who was witness to the blasts aftermath.

Thanking God for saving his life, Ali felt sorry for his colleague and TTE Lalit Kumar who was not so lucky.

"He (Lalit) left the sleeper coach to help an aged passenger board the general coach. No sooner was he to join us, the train started and in a hurry he boarded the same general bogie which caught fire at around 11.55 pm following the blasts," a shocked Ali said.

Senior railway officials said Lalit was missing and so far there has been no information from his whereabouts.

After informing his seniors at Panipat, Ali left the Ambala Cantonment railway station for Attari where he gave his official statement about the shocking incident.

The TTE had also informed his officials about the incident soon after the blast who in turn alerted the commercial management and control room for further action.

"He met us today morning briefly and left for duty. Though he had called us soon after the accident on Sunday night, we were releived only when we saw him in person today," said Aysha, Ali's wife.

This was the first official duty of Ali on Delhi-Attari special train, which starts from Old Delhi Railway station on two nominated days -- Sunday and Wednesday.

She recalled that someone had died at home and Ali wanted to take leave on the fateful day.

"However, citing shortage of staff the senior officials asked him to join duty. But all's well that ends well," said Aysha, a mother of two, heaving a sigh of relief on the safe return of her husband.

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Archana Jyoti in New Delhi
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