Does Delhi really have a heart?

Insensitive Attitude

Probably one of the most heartening reports readers would have come across recently is that of rail commuters in Perth, Australia, tilting a whole carriage to free a man who had accidentally stuck his leg between the platform edge and the train.

 A day after the incident took place, on August 6, dailies across the world carried front page pictures of dozens of commuters physically pushing the train sideway after their attempts at extricating the man had failed initially. Befittingly, this incident – a replay of a similar occurrence in Tokyo in 2013 – was hailed as a display of “community work” and “people power”.

However, if something of this nature had taken place in Delhi, say in our pride of place – the Metro, how do you suppose passengers here would have responded? Our worst fears were confirmed by a Delhi Metro passenger who recently had the misfortune of seeing a man commit suicide on its tracks. Savita Mohanty was present at the Subhash Nagar Metro Station on August 14 when a man jumped on the tracks and was crushed under the train wheels. However, what pained her more than the horrific act was the reaction of the public, their uncooperative and spectator-like behaviour in the face of this tragic incident. She shared her truly disheartening experience with Metrolife.

“It was about five minutes to nine when I reached platform number 2 of the Subhash Nagar Metro station that leads towards Noida City Centre, where I reside. I was on the phone, unmindful of others who were waiting for the train, when all of a sudden, a man leapt on the tracks just as the train was approaching. The driver, naturally, took a few seconds to realise what had happened and apply the brakes by which time he had come under the wheels.

Soon, three to four officials and housekeeping staff rushed upstairs,” she recalled.Meanwhile, word had spread that a man had committed suicide and passengers poured out of the train to see what had transpired. Expectedly, “a train-full of people gathered all around the first coach just to get a glimpse of the mutilated man or his dead body,” she said. However, what was more shocking was that instead of trying to help or not be a hindrance in the rescue effort, most of the eager “passengers fished out their mobiles, and some even their cameras, to shoot the gory sight, when nothing at all was visible on the track.”

In the women’s coach, meanwhile, “every second lady called up her family to inform them of what had happened; that Metro services stood suspended and they should come over to pick them up. This, when no such announcement had been made. Men folk started crowding around the rescue staff enquiring who died, why he died and how much longer it would take for the services to resume!”

The Metro staff were trying their best to extricate the man at the soonest summoning, probably, the leanest staff member available to go under the Metro coach, flash torches and find out the victim’s location. He had apparently gone under the second coach.

“But inquisitive passengers were leaning towards the track so dangerously that a few might as well have fallen on it along with fellow spectators, creating more trouble for officials. At least two officials were later deployed, only for crowd management.The worst came at the last when announcements were made for the remaining passengers to clear the Metro so that the body could be removed. But some passengers seemed to be so much in love with their seats that they would not budge even after three announcements,” a traumatised Mohanty related the events.

“We later saw the staff take away his bloodied body shrouded in white, on a stretcher. And some people were seen praying for peace for his soul. This inhuman behaviour, though, left me wondering if their prayers were only a gimmick and if this is the amount of cooperation they can offer when a person has met with an accident or is already dead.” Is anyone listening?  

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