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Numbers hide the human tragedies behind deaths

Such fatal accidents by the Blueline buses mostly end up as mere statistics in government files. Atul Mathur examines...
By Atul Mathur | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 19, 2008 01:10 AM IST

The case of Dalia Bibi, who hanged herself on Monday after her husband was killed in a Blueline accident on Sunday, is telling. Such fatal accidents by the blueline buses mostly end up as mere statistics in government files. What goes unnoticed is probably the fact that the victims are often the sole breadwinners for their families. Their untimely death put a question mark on the survival of the entire family.

The family of Ashok Kumar is one such case. Kumar was killed by a Blueline bus while he was riding a bicycle to work last year. His blind wife has been forced to take up cleaning and washing jobs in households of Nehru Vihar to support her two children.

Sikander, 20, was also killed by a speeding Blueline and left behind an unemployed father, a bed-ridden mother, an old grandmother and siblings. They depended on Sikander’s meagre salary, which he drew as a courier boy. His grand mother now collects leftover food from neighbours to feed her family. His younger sister died because his family could not get her treated for want of money.

“In most cases, the victims come from very poor families. Their families don’t even have money for cremation. The government should not only come up with a policy on compensation to kin of victims, but should also take up the responsibility of hospital expenses and cremation costs,” said S.N. Mishra, who lost his young daughter to a Blueline bus in Noida last year.

Though the Delhi High Court has passed an order that the owners of the Blueline buses should immediately pay Rs.1 lakh to the family of the dead and Rs.50,000 to the injured, victims’ families claim that the money take a lot of time to reach them.

“The requirements of the families are immediate. This should be looked into. The Blueline operators deposit the amount to the court. The process of getting that money from court is too long and complicated,” said Jasbir Singh Malik, counsel for the Blueline Buses Victims Association.

The Blueline operators have contended the court order saying that the compensation money is paid by the insurance companies. While the bus operators have challenged the court order and are looking for reprieve, the victims’ families feel the issue should be looked into from the human angle.

“It takes 5-6 years before insurance claims are settled by the court. In my case, the court has given a date that is three years from the filing of the case,” said Rajesh Verma, president, Blueline Buses Victims Association.

The association that has moved the court on behalf of several families who have lost their breadwinners feels that the situation is getting out of hand and it is about time the government announced a compensation policy. “The government announced Rs.1 lakh each for the families of each of the eight victims who were killed by a Blueline bus at Badarpur on October 7, 2008. What about the families of other victims? We have pleaded the court that the transport minister should be held responsible and be sacked immediately, the association be made a party in the case in which the High Court is monitoring the situation. There should be no discrimination among people killed by Blueline buses. The chief minister had announced employment to a member of the victim’s family. Nothing has happened to that,” said Malik.

“The fact that neither the government nor the bus operators have responded to notices served by the court in our case shows how serious they are about the whole issue,” he added.

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