In a bizarre and shocking incident a young man was electrocuted while traveling on top of a Virar Local right in front of a station full of commuters on the 25th of Oct 2005.
It happened on 5:57 PM (Starting time from ChurchGate) Virar local. As usual the train left ChurchGate on correct time. But soon after leaving Mumbai Central station, the train started moving in a slow pace and at Dadar it stopped for 15 minutes. Each passing minute the crowd was swelling and by the time it reached Bandra, it was impossible to accommodate one more foot.
Now all the trains were running late due a Rajdhani break-down down the line and at Andheri Station a group of young men, after some fruitless tries to get in, climbed on top the coaches. I was standing inside and was watching the plight of these people, suddenly everybody’s hand went to their mouth and I could see utter fear on their face. But Before I could ask anything, the train moved. As learned later, they were witnessing the horrible death of the unfortunate man. After moving a few meters, it stopped again due to someone pulling the chain. It moved within two seconds and again stopped. This repeated 3 times and all the time, the people on the platform were pointing towards the coach and shouting. But no one tried to do anything.
Later when I got down at Vasai (It was unthinkable to get down and inspect what was the commotion, before Bhayander) and decided to check what it was, and I found this man lying on his back, his hands hidden behind the thick wires of the pantograph and was dead. He decided to climb on top, and must have grabbed one of those wires when the train moved. It may not be a big thing for the cops at Andheri, Borivali or Vasai stations since they see a lot of deaths every day on the tracks. But for the ordinary man it was a horrifying sight. What bothered me is the total lack of concern from the part of Motorman, the cops on duty and the station master.
One young man, who boarded the train from the same station as the deceased, was pleading with the cops in Vasai to stop the train and remove the body. He said he tried to call the police, the emergency line of Railways specially designed for this kind of accidents, but all of those lines were busy. While the cops were attentive to his pleading, they did nothing. And the train passed carrying some 4000 passengers and a dead body.
This incident raises a few questions about the passenger security.
- Even after repeatedly pulling the chains, the train kept moving. Had the Motormen stopped the train after the first pulling, may be, just may be they could save him?
- The dead body was lying on top of the engine coach, while other sat on top of the train and the cops were doing nothing to get them down. Why these police deployed at stations then?
- The dead body was lying there for almost 1 ½ hour without anyone attending. Is this the famous Mumbai resilience and compassion?
- What is the use of such emergency lines when it is not accessible in an emergency?
The need of the hour is to sensitize the officials and police. Their minds may have ceased to have any feelings. But when some prompt action could save lives, they should take the action instead of being just an onlooker. We need to learn to respect the dead, the way Americans do. At least let them rest honorably.