Terrified when I see a crowd anywhere, says survivor of Mumbai stampedemumbai Updated: Oct 07, 2017 00:57 IST
People in queue on the steps of the bridge, where the stampede had occurred a week ago, on Friday.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
“If there is a crowd on a foot overbridge, I wait till it clears. In fact, a crowd anywhere terrifies me,’’ said Rufel Amin.
A week ago, on September 29, Amin had found himself buried under four others on the stairs of the Elphinstone Road railway station foot overbridge during a rush-hour stampede.
Amin remembers being miraculously pulled out from there and taken to KEM Hospital. He survived the stampede that killed 23 people and injured 38 people. He later came to know that he was under four bodies.
Recounting the devastating incident, Amin, a Kurla resident said, “I do not know how things changed in a matter of seconds. It was raining heavily and people were taking shelter. Everyone was shouting and there was chaos when I fell. I was struggling to breathe when I realised that there were four people above me. I shouted for help, tried to push myself out. Somehow, I managed to free my legs when a man pulled me out. After that, all I remember was that I was taken to hospital in a police van. I later came to know that I was under four bodies.’’
Amin admitted he cannot erase memories of the incident and his daily routine of taking a local train to work and back has been scarred.
“I have no choice other than to take a local train, but I only board the compartments that are relatively empty. I walk everyday on the same foot overbridge, which terrifies me,’’ he added.
Like Amin, other survivors, those who lost their loved ones and daily commuters, said they now live in fear.
Ankush Parab, who lost his 11 -year- old son, Rohit, said that last Friday changed the lives of his family. “My elder son told me Rahul met with an accident. This was the first information we received. When we reached the hospital, the police did not allow us inside for two hours. Only after we shouted that it was our son inside was when the police allowed us. We are totally devastated. For us, life can never be the same”, said Ankush Parab.
Shilpa Vishwakarma, who takes the bridge every day, feels that commuters haven’t learnt a lesson post the stampede and there is still no discipline among them. “It is still a scary situation every morning when I take the bridge. There is absolutely no discipline among commuters and everybody just wants to get down as fast as they can. Whenever I walk on the bridge, I fear another stampede,” said Shilpa, who remembers her saviour who managed to push her away from the mass of bodies just in time. He did not make it.
The tragedy has had a positive impact on railway authorities and they are more vigilant. Apart from the multi-disciplinary team audit of railway stations, authorities have deployed extra Railway Protection Force (RPF) staff at platforms and on the overbridges, to manage the crowd. The railway authorities have also got loudspeakers to be used during peak hours to control the crowd.
“If there is crowd at a particular bridge, we will announce at the station about the situation and ask people to move cautiously. We have deployed additional staff on every bridge, which we deem to be vulnerable,” said Ravinder Bhakar, chief public relations officer, Western Railway.