On May 24, Sanjay Kumar Agarwal, a Kanpur-based businessman boarded the Patna-Kota Express around 6 am from Kanpur. He had to travel to Agra to attend a marriage and was elated to get a seat in an AC III-tier coach.
Around 7.30 am he got a call from his wife inquiring him about his health. Kumar told his wife that he was feeling a bit uneasy and would get down earlier if possible. He then hung up the call. For the next several hours, his wife kept trying his phone, which was ‘switched-off’.
After almost 72 hours, Agarwal’s body was recovered from the toilet of S1 coach in Patna railway station.
How did Sanjay, who had to travel to Agra from Kanpur — which is around 300 kilometres away (by rail) — reach Patna, about 1,000 kilometres away and without anyone noticing, is a questioning baffling many.
This mind-boggling incident has brought to light serious lapses on part of the Railway authorities.
According to a Govt Railway Police (GRP) investigative officer, Sanjay could have gone to the bathroom after hanging up on his wife, where he suffered a heart attack and died.
But what is shocking is that Sanjay’s body travelled aboard the Patna-Kota Superfast Express for almost 1,500 kilometres without being noticed by passengers, cleaning staff or even the Railway security staff.
The train was supposed to reach Kota at 12.50 pm but was delayed by almost 6 hours. While the train stood at the platform and prepared for its return journey, the cleaning staff did not bother to check the bathroom in which Sanjay was lying dead.
When he did not get down at Agra, his wife raised a complaint with the GRP. Yet, no one bothered to check the toilet.
Sanjay’s body lay in the toilet unnoticed and returned from Kota, passed through the same stations such as Agra and Kanpur and travelled another 1,100 kilometres to land up in Patna.
It was only in Patna, where all the passengers de-boarded that the train was sent to the yard and the cleaning staff came across an unbearable stench from the toilet.
Railway Police was called immediately and the door was broken only to find the body of the middle-aged man lying there.
The police recovered Rs 9,000 from Agarwal’s pocket, identified him from his ID card and informed Kanpur Police.
“We had informed the police about Sanjay being untraceable since May 24 noon, but the FIR was lodged only on May 26 morning,” says Sanjay’s relative.
Rajesh Kumar, CPRO of East Central Railways accepts that this was an “unusual case” and Railways is waiting for the police investigation to be completed, following which an internal inquiry would be ordered.
Speaking to News18, the CPRO said that one of the reasons in the delay to trace the missing person was that Sanjay’s wife had given them the wrong train number.
“Agarwals’s wife, in her complaint to the police, gave the train number as 13237 while the man had boarded train number 13239,” the spokesperson said.
According to the Railways, the man did not have a reservation and bought a current ticket making it even more difficult to track him.
“But it is very unusual that the body lay in the train toilet for almost 1,500 kilometres and no passenger complained that the toilet door was locked from inside,” he said.