Five passengers who suffered fractures in the melee resulting from the Metro fire on Thursday got Rs 25,000 each on Tuesday in what a railway official described as a “much-needed gesture”.The five passengers received calls from the office of the chief operations manager before Metro officials visited their homes to hand over the cash.
The callers apologised for the trouble caused to the passengers and promised all possible help in their rehabilitation.The Metro authorities had come in for a lot of flak for not apologising to the passengers and for not coming out with an offer of compensation.“The money given on Tuesday was ex gratia, not compensation,” chief operations manager Satyaki Nath said. “It was a much-needed gesture.”Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines ex gratia as “given or done as a gift or favour, not because there is a legal duty to do it”.
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Nath said handing out ex gratia payments was the norm after railway accidents.Manoj Bhagat, one of those who received the payment, welcomed the move but expressed the hope that it was the beginning and not the end.The 27-year-old fractured both his legs after he jumped out through a window of the second coach of the Dum Dum-bound train that caught fire minutes after it had pulled out of Rabindra Sadan station.Several passengers jumped out of the train after smashing windowpanes to escape the smoke that filled up multiple compartments.
Bhagat, who works at a chartered accountancy firm and freelances as a tax consultant, has been advised “bed rest” for at least five months.“I am almost out of work. I need compensation,” he told the Metro official who had come calling at his sister’s home in Howrah’s Ramrajatala with the money.
“My elder brother is epileptic and has other medical conditions. My mother would not have been able to take care of both of us together. That is why my sister brought me here.”