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Railways trying to save their skin

bhopal Updated: Dec 19, 2012 12:57 IST
Amit Jha
Amit Jha
Hindustan Times
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Railway's Bhopal-based senior circle security commissioner AK Agnihotri's report on death of Rajeev Gaur, executive president JP Power Venture Ltd, raises more questions than it settles them.

The report circulated on Monday puts the blame of the incident on the deceased and gives a clean chit to railway authorities. Gaur had died on December 16 when he fell off the Southern Express near Kulhar station. Agnihotri's report states that Gaur had boarded a wrong compartment, which was locked and when the gate didn't open, he continued holding on to the it even as the train left the Mandi Bamora station, where he had boarded the train.

The report points out that Gaur had boarded a wrong compartment in haste and his personal security officer (PSO) rushed to station master Mandi Bamora, Arvind Sahu, when he found that Gaur had not alighted the train and left hanging on the gate of the compartment. He requested Sahu to stop the train at 9.19am. Sahu, forwarded the information to Amit Arya, deputy station superintendent (DSS), at the Kulhar station. The train passed Kulhar station at 9.22am and Arya could see a person hanging from the gate of the compartment next to the engine and passed on the information RK Meena, to DSS Chhuleta station, and the control room. A minute later i.e. at 9.23am, Gaur fell off the train and died.

There is no reference in the report as to what Sahu or Arya did to stop the train or to establish contact with staff on the train to alert them that life of a person clinging on to the gate of a compartment was at risk. When asked was it not the railway’s responsibility to try and save Gaur though he had indeed made a mistake, Agnihotri refused to comment, saying that GRP was investigating the matter and its officials should be asked questions about the incident. He also said that the divisional railway manager (DRM) would be a better person to answer the questions. When told that an inquiry report submitted by him into the incident was circulated in the media on Monday, Agnihotri said he had not submitted any such report. A senior officer at DRM office, however, said on the condition of anonymity that nothing could be done to stop the train probably because of time constraint. “By the time Sahu came to know about Gaur hanging on the gate, the train had crossed the signal and Arya, who got the information at 9.19am hardly got any time to react.”

He, however, maintained that presence of mind and effective intervention in such situations varies from one person to another and a person with a more agile mind could have stopped the train and saved Gaur.

DRM Rajiv Chaudhary said, “It is the duty of every railway employee to save the life of passengers. In this case also our officials tried their best to save the victim.”

However, the case hinges not on what the officials did, rather, the question here is what they could have done to save Gaur.