Monday, October 11, 2010

Threat on the Wheels

An incident at the Baghajatin railway station, about 10 kilometers from Sealdah in Kolkata, made me write this. I had just arrived at the station after a meeting with UNICEF and Ramakrishna Mission officials, to leave for Sealdah, and then to look for a train to go to North Bengal. When I reached there on the Platform No. 1, I saw an old man, a lady in her thirties and a child of 4 years old, getting down from the same platform on to the track, crossing it, walking towards platform No. 2, so that they can climb it. This is a short cut that thousands of people take in Indian railway stations, specially I have come to see it a lot in northern states. Suddenly, I heard people shouting, and I turned back to look. I saw the horror coming! A local electrical train was fast approaching platform No. 2. The train was trying to pull herself up on the platform, the child was still on the tracks and the old man was just in the middle, not knowing what he would do. Suddenly, someone pulled the man to the side, and took the child and jumped on the platform. And the woman had been given a helping hand. And the train passed them, and came to a halt. It all happened in about 5 – 7 seconds. I began to wonder. What was all this about? Why do people risk their lives to catch a train? In last month alone at least 4 persons have died in three different train accidents in Kolkata suburbs. In all three, the persons were talking on cell phone, had crossed the rail-crossing although the gate was closed, and walked on the track without realizing that the train was coming. In one of the accidents, an young college going girl died, trying to save her friend, taking the death toll to four! What a tragedy! What priorities have come about? What is more than life and love?

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