The Western Railways has cleared its officials and blamed rain, panic and rumours for the stampede on a foot overbridge between Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road and Parel railway stations on September 29, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. Twenty-three people were killed in the stampede.
The report, prepared by a five-member committee of senior railway officials, was submitted to the general manager of the Western Railways on Tuesday. It also recommended several measures including relocating the booking counter, regulating vendors’ entry during rush hours, installing additional CCTV cameras, and setting up a hotline facility at stations to prevent such incidents in the future.
“The incident was caused due to panic and confusion created on the bridge, coupled with rain,” Western Railways Chief Public Relations Officer Ravinder Bhaker was quoted as saying. “No one can be held responsible for the incident.”
The report also agreed with the Dadar Police’s earlier assessment that many people may have misheard a flower seller’s shouts of “phool gir gaya [flowers have fallen]” to mean “pul gir gaya [the bridge has fallen]”. This may have worsened the situation, the police had said.
Experts had long warned that the daily congestion at Elphinstone Road station and the nearby Parel station, to which it is linked by a narrow bridge, was a disaster in the making.