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Relatives face difficulty identifying victims

By Sagar Kulkarni in Panipat
February 21, 2007 09:29 IST
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It was a long lonely ride for the relatives of some of the victims of the Samjhauta Express blasts who arrived in Panipat in the wee hours. Identifying the dead from the charred remains turned out to be a more difficult task.

The relatives, coming from various Pakistani cities, were carrying passport numbers of their near and dear ones who were on the ill-fated train but the Haryana administration was at pains to help them as they did not have a complete details of the victims of the train tragedy.

"The railway officials have not given us complete details about the passengers travelling in the unreserved compartments," a Haryana government official, who was present when the relatives examined the charred remains at the mortuary of the civil hospital, said.

Another official said that the relatives saw just three bodies and decided not to go any further as they were unable to maintain their composure.

"I am looking for my son Mohd Iqbal, who had come to Delhi for a marriage," said Ghulam Geelani, who hails from Lahore.

He said he was not sure whether his son was among the victims. "I haven't heard about him. He was not among the survivors who returned to Pakistan," he said.

Seventeen of the 68 killed in the Sunday night's explosions followed by fire engulfing two coaches have been identified. Thirteen are Pakistani nationals.

One Mohammad Akthar, also from Lahore, said his relative Mohammad Akbar was untraceable after the tragedy.

It would be another long journey for Zahid Hussain and his 21-year-old nephew Mohsin Mohammad, who will travel to Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh for the burial of their five family members, whose bodies were claimed by their relative Vakil Ahmad.

"We are a big family with relations in India as well as Pakistan," said Hussain, who appeared to be in his fifties.

The Hussains hail from Hyderabad in Pakistan's Sindh province.

The nine relatives of the victims include Sham Lal, from Sialkot, who said he saw two of his injured relatives, Ashok and Ramesh, on a news channel.

"They are undergoing treatment at Safdarjang Hospital in Delhi," said Lal who also knew their bed numbers.

Mahmood Akhtar, a Lahore resident, has come here searching for his uncle Abdul Majid who was on the train.

Mohammad Asif Bhatt and Mohammad Shahazad are here to find the relatives of Shahazad's wife.

The relatives of the tragedy-struck families said though the news was received with shock in Pakistan, there was no resentment, only remorse.

Among the identified victims were Lalit Kumar (37), a travel ticket examiner from Old Mahavir Nagar in Delhi and Yunus Umaruddin of Multan in Pakistan.
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Sagar Kulkarni in Panipat
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