Wait for DNA match heaps misery on Odisha train crash victims’ kin

As they could not find him there, they travelled to Cuttack and then Bhubaneswar in search of his body.
Lalan Sharma (second from right) and other family members of train crash victims waiting for DNA reports at a guest house in Bhubaneswar | Express
Lalan Sharma (second from right) and other family members of train crash victims waiting for DNA reports at a guest house in Bhubaneswar | Express

BHUBANESWAR: Eight months pregnant Madhu Devi is waiting for her husband Upendra Sharma at Satjora village under Daraundha police station in Bihar’s Siwan district. The last time she spoke to Upendra was when he called to inform he would reach home in the Yesvantpur-Howrah Super Fast train by June 3 evening. Madhu hoped her husband would be by her side when she delivered their first child next month.

Married on February 9 last year, the 24-year-old Upendra had to leave for Bengaluru a few months later to provide for his family. He worked as an electrician under a contractor there. On June 2 evening, Madhu’s dreams came crashing down when the Yesvantpur-Howrah Super Fast and Coromandel Express were involved in one of India’s deadliest train crashes at Bahanaga Bazar station.

Upendra’s father Lalan and brother Raj Kumar took the next train to Balasore and arrived there by next evening. As they could not find him there, they travelled to Cuttack and then Bhubaneswar in search of his body. The father-son duo is yet to get a clue. Since June 9, they are camping at a guest house near AIIMS, Bhubaneswar.

“I have given my blood sample for DNA cross-matching. The authorities say it will take 10 days more for the report to come. We have not informed Madhu about it. She is waiting with bated breath. But how long can we wait?” asked Lalan.

Normalcy may have been restored in the Bhadrak section of South Eastern Railway a week after the tragic train crash but the woes of victims’ family members is far from over. As 81 bodies are still left unidentified at AIIMS, 38 others like Lalan are spending anxious nights waiting for their DNA cross-matching reports to arrive with a hope that they would finally get the body of their dear ones who perished in the train crash. 

Arjun Chowdhry of Purani Sahibganj in Jharkhand is another such man. His brother Bhim Chowdhary, a mason, was heading to Chennai in search of a job. He was in one of the general coaches of the ill-fated Coromandel Express.

“I do not know how many more days I will have to wait. I can leave for home if anyone assures to call whenever they get the reports and matching is done. I am now the only breadwinner of my family. My father is physically challenged. I have to look after him, mine as well as Bhim’s family,” said Arjun.

So far, AIIMS has collected 75 samples from the relatives of accident victims. While 29 samples were earlier sent for profiling and matching, the remaining 46 were taken to New Delhi on Tuesday. The cross-matching will take at least two weeks more.

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