On this day, last year, Mumbai woke up to witness a horrific tragedy when 23 people died in a stampede on the foot overbridge connecting Parel and Elphinstone Road railway stations.
On the first anniversary of the tragedy on Saturday, families and friends of the people who died in the unfortunate stampede gathered at the railway station to pay homage to the departed souls.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police is set to close the investigation concluding that what happened on the Elphinstone Road overbridge that day was an accident.
According to eyewitnesses, the stampede was triggered by rumours of a collapsing bridge, a short-circuit and broken stairs among others.
The Maharashtra government was heavily criticised for its inaction on the requests made by commuters to redevelop the foot overbridge (FOB). Despite multiple warnings about the possibility of a disaster occurring, no step was ever taken.
It was the morning rush hour and people on the bridge were in a hurry to get down, while those who had alighted from suburban trains were making their way up. Also, incessant rains had forced scores of commuters to take shelter under the FOB.
All hell broke loose when a loud thud led the people to believe that a part of the bridge had fallen. Following the noise, a vendor’s cry from the crammed crowd was heard saying “phool gir gaya” (flowers have fallen), which was mistaken for “pul gir gaya” (bridge has collapsed).
The anxiety and fear of getting trapped forced the people to push one another, which ultimately resulted in the stampede.
In an unprecedented move, the Army was called in to construct FOBs at three stations in Mumbai.
Over 250 personnel of the Bombay Engineering Group and Centre, Pune, also known as Bombay Sappers, were involved in the task which was completed in a record 117 days.
The Indian Army @adgpi commenced the work for construction of Foot Over Bridges (FOBs) at 3 stations on the war footing and completed it within a record time of three months. #MumbaiThanksArmy pic.twitter.com/8xS39eIM0D
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) February 27, 2018
A new foot overbridge was constructed at the Elphinstone Road railway station and was thrown open to the public on February 27, this year. Two other FOBs were also constructed by the Army at Currey Road and Ambivli stations.