252 died in track ac­ci­dents in 2015 Thane court ac­quits woman in Kalwa cou­ple’s death case

BLAME GAME Rail­ways blame res­i­dents for flout­ing rules, com­muters cite lack of in­fra­struc­ture

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI MUMBAI - Pranab Jy­oti Bhuyan pranab.bhuyan@hin­dus­tan­times.com Press Trust of In­dia htlet­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

While res­i­dents of Navi Mum­bai blame the rail­way depart­ment of not tak­ing ad­e­quate mea­sures for safety of the com­muters in the city, the rail­way depart­ment, on the other hand, hold the com­muters re­spon­si­ble for not fol­low­ing the given guide­lines prop­erly.

This blame game, how­ever, has not helped re­duce the num­ber of rail­way ac­ci­dents in the satel­lite city.

Ac­cord­ing to rail­way sources, as many as 252 peo­ple died in the satel­lite city while cross­ing rail­way tracks in 2015 as op­posed to 205 deaths reg­is­tered in 2014.

Last year, the Pan­vel GRP reg­is­tered 71 fa­tal ac­ci­dents against 66 cases reg­is­tered in 2014. Like­wise the Vashi GRP reg­is­tered 181 fa­tal ac­ci­dents in 2015 as op­posed to 139 cases reg­is­tered in 2014.

“We un­der­stand that most of the ac­ci­dents take place be­cause of the care­less­ness of the vic­tims. But what the rail­way depart­ment is do­ing for the safety of the com­muters? You can’t see any wall or bar­ri­cade along the tracks any­where in Navi Mum­bai like the com­muters have in Mum­bai,” said Rakesh Poo­jari, 37, a res­i­dent of Kharghar.

“Al­though ac­ci­dents take place fre­quently in the city, most of the rail­way sta­tions do not have even ba­sic med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties or first aid kits. There is just one am­bu­lance at Vashi and Nerul sta­tion,” he added.

The rail­way of­fi­cials how­ever say that many peo­ple die be­cause of their own mis­take. “Nor­mally peo­ple want ‘short cuts’ to reach the plat­forms or other side of the tracks. For ex­am­ple, 55- 60 ac­ci­dents take place ev­ery year be­tween the Belapur tun­nel and the fly­over that goes to­wards Uran. The ar­eas near Agroli vil­lage and Konkan Bha­van also see fre­quent ac­ci­dents. Most of the ac­ci­dents take place at night when peo­ple face prob­lems in re­al­iz­ing the move­ment of the trains,” said an of­fi­cial from Belapur sta­tion.

Sev­eral stu­dents of the lo­cal col­leges in Khan­desh­war cross the tracks wear­ing ear­phones. The res­i­dents of Ch­hota Khanda and Mota Khanda lo­cated on each side of the tracks also travel putting their lives at risk and thus met with the ac­ci­dents.

Hun­dreds of slum dwellers have en­croached on rail­way land at Turbhe and are stay­ing there con­struct­ing shanties. Th­ese peo­ple and their chil­dren fre­quently met with ac­ci­dents as they live just a few me­ters from the tracks.

A rail­way of­fi­cial of Vashi sta­tion on con­di­tion of anonymity said, “Short­age of staff mem- ber at the rail­way sta­tions is also an­other as­pect that has to be con­sid­ered in this re­gard. We do not even have peo­ple to carry vic­tims of train ac­ci­dents. Po­lice con­sta­bles and home guards have to take the body out and hence the vic­tims don’t get med­i­cal ser­vices at the right time.”

The govern­ment rail­way po­lice ( GRP) how­ever, said that they are tak­ing all pos­si­ble ef­forts to re­duce the num­ber of ac­ci­dents.

Nitin Bobade, se­nior po­lice in­spec­tor of Vashi GRP said, “It is very easy to blame the po­lice for the ac­ci­dents. But lit­tle can be done when peo­ple don’t think about their own lives. We along with RPF (Rail­way Pro­tec­tion Force) of­fi­cials are reg­u­larly pa­trolling along the tracks and tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against peo­ple who are vi­o­lat­ing the rules.”

“For cre­at­ing aware­ness among the com­muters, we are dis­tribut­ing pam­phlets, hold­ing aware­ness camps and meet­ings at schools and col­leges. We are also putting ban­ners and posters and con­duct­ing street plays at the pub­lic places,” he added.

A shop­keeper has been ac­quit­ted by the district court of the charges of abet­ting sui­cide of a cou­ple on the ba­sis of the dy­ing dec­la­ra­tion given to the po­lice by the vic­tims prior to their death.

Ad­di­tional ses­sions judge PR Kadam on Fri­day passed the judg­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tion, the ac­cused Rashmi Bothra had given Arvind Rai the con­tract for car­ry­ing out elec­tri­cal work in her shop in Kalwa lo­cal­ity here. Af­ter the man com­pleted the work, the woman found out that the ma­te­rial pro­cured by him was in ex­cess of what was ac­tu­ally used by him, the pros­e­cu­tion said.

As per the ac­cused, the labourer had bought ma­te­rial worth Rs82,103 from the spec­i­fied elec­tric shop, but the ma­te­rial put to use in the work was of a lesser amount. The woman re­port­edly started bad­ger­ing him to re­turn the dif­fer­ence in the two sums of money.

Fed up by the con­stant ha­rass­ment, the labourer and his wife Seema Rai al­legedly con­sumed rat poi­son, fol­low­ing which they died on Novem­ber 26, 2011, the pros­e­cu­tion al­leged.

In their dy­ing dec­la­ra­tion given to the po­lice, the duo said they had drunk some­thing think­ing it was ‘shar­bat’ (soft drink).

How­ever, a sui­cide note was re­cov­ered from the duo af­ter that, in which the vic­tims held the ac­cused re­spon­si­ble for their tak­ing the ex­treme step, he said.

A case was sub­se­quently filed un­der sec­tion 306 (abet­ment of sui­cide) of the IPC in Fe­bru­ary, 2012. In the trial, it emerged that the vic­tims’ dy­ing dec­la­ra­tion was ob­tained much be­fore the cou­ple’s pur­ported sui­cide note was found, he said.

The de­po­si­tion of the doc­tor who was present at the time of the dec­la­ra­tion was taken into ac­count, to ar­rive at the con­clu­sion that the ac­cused had no in­volve­ment in the duo’s death.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­spon­dent’s coun­sel, it was es­tab­lished that the cou­ple did not com­mit sui­cide and that there was no ques­tion of any ha­rass­ment. Ob­serv­ing that the pros­e­cu­tion failed to prove their charges, the ac­cused was ac­quit­ted of all charges on the ba­sis of the ve­rac­ity of the dy­ing dec­la­ra­tion, and not of the sui­cide note.

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