After handing over unstitched bodies of children—who were killed in the unmanned railway crossing accident in Kushinagar on April 26—to their parents, the insensitive district administration has once again mocked the grieving families. The ex-gratia cheques given to the eight families of the 13 deceased children by the Ministry of Railway and the Uttar Pradesh government were mere pieces of paper.
When the recipients went to get the cheques encashed, the banks returned them. The return memo stated “out of range” as the reason for non-disbursement of the funds. There is an error in the cheque, because of which, it is not acceptable to the electronic machine, which is the fault of the issuing authority.
Following the on the spot death of the 13 children after their school van (Tata Magic) collided with a train at the Bahpurva railway crossing near Dudahi railway station in an eastern Uttar Pradesh district, both the state government and the Centre had announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for each of the kin of the deceased.
Since the bank cheques were issued in haste, they had numerous errors in names and other details of the beneficiaries. The aggrieved parents had to run from pillar to post to get them corrected. When they finally went to their banks to deposit the cheques, it turned out that they were mere pieces of papers, as there was no entry in the official records of the cheques issued.
“I got the cheque on April 27 and submitted it soon after. But on May 5, they refused to pay and returned the cheque. I have checked with the bank twice thereafter, but they have told me that the bank is yet to receive the sanctioned amount,” said Haider Ali, a resident of Padraun Mudrai village, who lost his sons Kamran (9) and Farhan (10) to the unfortunate incident.
Importantly, the banks did not only return their cheques but also deducted Rs 236 as penalty for the cheque bounce. The cheque issued by the Ministry of Railway is not being accepted by the local branches of the State Bank of India (SBI). The parents are reportedly being advised to send the cheques to Varanasi for clearance.
Misrauli resident Amarjit, who lost his all three children, told Newsclick, “The government is making a mockery of our suffering. First, they handed us over the unstitched bodies of our children and now they gave us invalid cheques. How can an elected government be so insensitive towards people? When approached, the district administration assured us that the problem would be solved but nothing has been done so far.”
Mainuddin, who lost his two children, alleged, “The aggrieved parents are being harassed for no fault. When I went to deposit the cheque issued by the railway at Dudahi SBI branch, the officials refused to accept it. They advised to go to Varanasi. This is unacceptable and the government must ensure immediate disbursement of our dues.”
The ex-gratia cheques issued to the four injured have also not been cleared.
Earlier, Newsclick had reported that the district health officials had returned the bodies of the 13 deceased children to their parents without stitching them. When the matter was reported, the officials of the district administration allegedly approached the parents and threatened them to keep mum. The parents were reportedly made to sign a No Objection Certificate (NOC).