Death on tracks in Punjab, no lessons learnt from Amritsar train tragedy

Updated on Oct 26, 2018 09:12 AM IST
A week on, HT ran a reality check across Punjab to find that people, young and old, have learnt no lesson and continue to flout safety norms by crossing closed railway crossings or walking on tracks despite the rail traffic.
Barely a week after the Amritsar rail tragedy, a school girl is unmindful of the approaching train as she crosses the tracks in Jalandhar on Thursday.(HT Photo)
Barely a week after the Amritsar rail tragedy, a school girl is unmindful of the approaching train as she crosses the tracks in Jalandhar on Thursday.(HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, Amritsar | ByAnil Sharma

Exactly a week ago, the nation went numb as 61 people lost their lives and 143 were injured when a train ploughed through a crowd standing on the tracks to watch the Dussehra celebrations at Dhobi Ghat near Jaura Phatak in Amritsar.

A week on, HT ran a reality check across Punjab to find that people, young and old, have learnt no lesson and continue to flout safety norms by crossing closed railway crossings or walking on tracks despite the rail traffic.

Though Punjab Police and Railway Protection Force (RPF) teams are deployed at level crossings, it hasn’t stopped people from being mindful about their safety. A police team led by sub inspector Hardeep Singh at Rambagh Phatak in Amritsar says commuters are impatient and duck the barrier at the slightest opportunity and cross the tracks.

Jatinder Pal Singh, a railway guard the phatak, says, “Nearly 100 trains pass through this crossing daily. Hundreds of people used to cross the closed level crossing but thanks to the police presence now such cases have come down. But for how long?”

A family with children in tow walking on the track as a train approaches and a youngster with ears plugged in Patiala on Thursday are examples of irresponsible civic behaviour. (HT Photo)
A family with children in tow walking on the track as a train approaches and a youngster with ears plugged in Patiala on Thursday are examples of irresponsible civic behaviour. (HT Photo)

Bridging the gap

Pardeep Kumar of Amritsar’s Jethuwal locality, who was stopped by the police for crossing Rambagh Phatak despite it being closed, said, “My grandmother, Kailash Vati, is undergoing treatment at Guru Ram Das Hospital. I took a break from work to deliver lunch to her. I had been waiting at the crossing for 15 minutes. It was getting late so I crossed it even if it meant risking my life. Why doesn’t the government build bridges over railway crossings? It will save commuters time and ensure their safety.”

Maninder Singh of Sundar Nagar locality agreed, “It’s difficult to stand for 15-30 minutes and wait for the barriers to be lifted. Over bridges, especially in busy areas of the city, are needed if the government is really concerned about people’s safety.”

Karan Rampal, who runs a kiosk selling cigarette, at Shivala Phatak, said, “Commuters are forced to bypass the closed level crossing due to the long duration it takes. Sometimes, this crossing is closed for an hour.”

Pavittar Singh, a Railway Police Force personnel posted at Shivala Phatak, said, “Despite our vigil, people are defiant. At least, they should think about the recent tragedy.”

Commuters crossing a manned level crossing despite a train approaching at Shastri Nagar in Ludhiana on Thursday. (HT Photo)
Commuters crossing a manned level crossing despite a train approaching at Shastri Nagar in Ludhiana on Thursday. (HT Photo)

Broken walls

Boundary walls of the railways are broken at several places along the busy Amritsar-Jalandhar route. Residents of slums and colonies adjoining the rail route walk and cross the rail tracks at will. Parveen Rani of Pawan Nagar in Amrtisar, who was caught crossing the tracks from Indra Nagar to Shivala Phatak, said, “I have been crossing the tracks like this for decades. Most people here choose to do so because this is a shortcut.”

Amritsar railway station director Amrit Singh said 21 railway crossings in Amritsar district are manned. Railway sources said six crossings are unmanned in the district, most of them in the rural areas.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Picture fore representation. 

    Flight delayed over mobile chat between couple in Mangaluru

    A Mangaluru-Mumbai flight was delayed by six hours after a woman passenger raised an alarm about a suspicious text message received on the mobile phone of a fellow traveller here. All the passengers were asked to alight from the aircraft and their luggage was thoroughly checked for any sabotage before the IndiGo flight was allowed to leave for Mumbai on Sunday evening, police said.

  • Idol makers are happy that the puja festivities will help them earn money. (File image)

    With 50 days to go, Kolkata readies itself for Durga Puja celebrations

    With less than 50 days to go for Durga Puja, Kolkata is gearing up for a grand celebration this time around after a hiatus of two years owing to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. UNESCO's heritage tag to the biggest festival in West Bengal has upped the excitement factor in the state ahead of the celebrations. Idol makers are happy that the puja festivities will help them earn money.

  • Those passionate about kite flying believe the tradition must be passed down generations, albeit with safety in mind. (Photo: PTI)

    Kite flying enthusiasts bat for use of cotton manjhas, this I-Day

    Kite flying is an integral part of Independence Day celebrations. Kids flying kites on the terrace, running after the katti patang to catch it, is a cherished childhood memory. But, the dangers of glass powder-coated, nylon manjhas aren't unknown. Though bans are in place on the use of such strings, some are still not adhering to it. Those passionate about kite flying believe the tradition must be passed down generations, albeit with safety in mind.

  • He also heaped praises on the youths serving the Indian Army from the state. (File image)

    75 Aam Aadmi clinics to be set up in Punjab, announces CM Bhagwant Mann

    Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann on Monday announced the setting up of 75 Aam Aadmi clinics in the state. He made this announcement while addressing a state level function on the occasion of 75th Independence Day at Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana. He also heaped praises on the youths serving the Indian Army from the state.

  • The victim reportedly climbed the terrace wall to raise the flag but slipped while tying it to the pole.

    Bengaluru techie dies while trying to raise national flag: Report

    A 33-year-old software engineer fell to Vishwas Kumar's death Sunday while hoisting the national flat at his home in Bengaluru's Hennur area, according to a report by The Times of India. According to the media report, Vishwas Kumar and his parents are from Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada. Kumar worked at a private IT firm in the city. Kumar died a few hours later. Vishwas Kumar is survived by his wife and a two-year-old daughter.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, August 15, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now