Thousands of people took to streets today in protest against the Vishsar train accident. A train travelling at speed had ploughed through people that had gathered on rail tracks on the eve of Dussehra, killing 50 and injuring 100. The protesters turned violent when they began pelting stones at railways office building and vandalised costly equipment. The mob moved on to the railway station and set fire to many coaches.
FN spoke to some the protesters to learn more about the incident. Ram Singh gave vent to his agony: “I lost both my twin sons, aged 7, in this accident. They were expert at evading trains. Normally trains slow down when they see my kids playing on tracks, but this driver killed them mercilessly.”
Sita Devi, who lost her 10-year old daughter in the accident, offered her views: “The train driver should be hanged. It was his responsibility to stop the train and sound a horn to request the people to move away, just like car drivers normally do in busy bazaars”.
On being asked how the destruction of public property will solve their problems, Das Rath was quick to offer an explanation: “The government can always print more currency notes, so there is no question of any loss. Vandalism is a proven method to attract attention to issues of national importance”.
Meanwhile, the train driver has been arrested, and 2 charges of reckless driving and overspeeding, under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, have been slapped against him. Further investigations for alleged dereliction of duty for not sounding the pressure horn every 10 seconds for communicating with people, as is the norm in India, are ongoing.
The state government has sprung into action to prevent such tragedies in the future. A budget of ₹ 5 crore has been sanctioned for organising a big yajna to appease the Gods of disaster. Akal Singh, the state minister of science and technology, personally sanctioned the grant.