By Navneet Singh
New Delhi, March 13 : Eight junior Madhya Pradesh recurve archers, who were travelling to Dehradun for the Junior National Championships, had a narrow escape on Saturday afternoon when their coach of the Delhi-Dehradun Shatabdi Express train caught fire near Haridwar and burned all their equipment and luggage.
However, none of the archers, coming from Jabalpur, sustained burn injuries. They finally reached Dehradun by the same train after the burned coach was detached. They bought new clothes in Dehradun, but will now have to make some arrangement to get equipment for the competition.
Madhya Pradesh coach Ashok Yadav, accompanying the team, said that the coach No. C-5 caught fire due to short circuit after the train crossed the Haridwar railway station. “We all are safe but our luggage and equipment has been burnt in the accident,” Yadav, 38, told IANS from Dehradun.
The athletes were aged between 17 and 20 years. The team had boarded the train in the morning around 6.30 am from Delhi, where they had reached from Jabalpur. They are to compete in the recurve event on March 14 and 15.
A coach said one set one set of bow and arrows costs between Rs.2.5 lakh and Rs. 3 lakh.
The junior boys team consisted of Amit Patel, Amit Kumar, Harsh Sindhiya, and Rohit Rajat while the women’s team comprised Amey Rai, Vitasa Thakur, Sonya Thakur and Dipika Pandey.
Around 12 noon on Saturday afternoon, when Yadav had gone to the toilet to wash his hands he saw the fire break out inside the washroom. He immediately raised an alarm.
“The train was stopped and all the passengers were rushed out to safety. But we couldn’t retrieve our luggage or equipment due to the dense smoke and fire in the compartment. Even other passengers couldn’t retrieve their luggage,” said Yadav.
Since the equipment got burned, the archer’s will have to make arrangement to compete in the recurve competition.
“We are in the process of arranging equipment. Hopefully, by Sunday the athletes will get a new set of equipment,” said Virendra Sachdeva, a senior official of the Archery Association of India.
“We have purchased new track pants and T-shirts. We hope we can get equipment to compete,” said Yadav.
The railway officials detached the burned bogey and all the passengers boarded different compartments and reached Dehradun safely.