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Student who turned saviour

She lost her new laptop somewhere, a Diwali gift, in the wreckage of the Mewar Express where she lay injured for hours.

india Updated: Oct 22, 2009 00:02 IST
Avishek G. Dastidar

She lost her new laptop somewhere, a Diwali gift, in the wreckage of the Mewar Express where she lay injured for hours.

If railway officials had not dragged their feet for years, the 22 people who died in the accident on Wednesday, could have been alive. Here is why:
* Indian Railways is still testing the Anti-Collision Device (ACD) technology that would have averted collision between the two trains.
* First installed in the Konkan railway during the NDA rule in 2004, the Railways have so far not installed this technology across its network.
* ACD is not expensive by railways standards. Installations can cost anything between
Rs 200,000 to Rs 500,000.
* Developed by Railways research and development wing, this technology runs on geo-positioning systems and is fitted at the engine, the rear, certain sections of the track, at level crossings, and between rakes.
* A member of the Mechanical Engineering department of the Railway Board said, “The technology, through GPS, gives a unique ID to each train. Whenever two trains are within 3-km distance of each other on a track, the system recognizes and automatically applies the brakes.”
* ACD has been a success in Konkan Railway. Authorities have been testing it on the Northeast Frontier railway for years now.

But Anuradha Sharma isn’t bothered about the loss.

For the 21-year-old Delhi software student managed to save the lives of her co-passengers — two children whose mother died a painful death right in front of her.

“They were trapped under broken berths. I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t really understand what was happening,” said Sharma. “Then I saw their mother and remembered.”

On Tuesday, Sharma was returning from her parents’ home in Agra after the Diwali festivities.

She recalled speaking to her fellow passenger, a woman in her thirties, who was travelling with her two children—a boy of about three years and a five-year-old girl. After regaining consciousness, she saw the woman lying in a pool of blood. “Then I looked around for the children.”

In a pre-dawn mishap, at least 22 people were killed when the Delhi-bound Goa Express rammed into the last bogie of the stationary Mewar Express on Wednesday.

In the din of people crying in pain amid blood and debris, Sharma saw the children injured and trapped below two seats.
“I somehow reached out to them and pulled them out one by one. They were bleeding. So was I,” she said, lying in the
Emergency Ward at Mathura’s Maheshwari hospital after an X-ray, her father on her side.

Sharma’s tale is an indicator of administrative apathy.

She lay trapped waiting for the rescue operation for more than two hours.

Residents from neighbouring villages, hearing the victims' cries, came to their aid with saws, wrenches and iron rods. “I realised that I was bleeding and the pain was getting worse. But I also understood that two kids would die of suffocation if they didn’t get out fast. I somehow called out to the rescuers and managed to send the kids out.”

Sharma’s father, a retired BSF jawan, is proud of her daughter. “Those children and their families would be blessing her.”
why we failed.