On October 19, a speeding train in Amritsar mowed down 60 Dussehra revellers and injured 72, while the guard who was 400 meters away failed to alert them.
Most people who lost their lives were oblivious to the approaching train. A part of which can be attributed to the noise of firecrackers drowning all other sounds around them.
While the Indian Railways maintained that it wasn’t at fault as it wasn’t notified about the Dussehra celebrations, the transport giant is now taking measures to prevent such incidents.
It has launched a pan-India campaign to create awareness against trespassing, while also stipulating dos and don’ts for train drivers, guards and even the Railway Protection Force (RPF).
According to an Zee Business report, Senior Divisional Operational Manager, Northern Railway, issued a letter to all divisions of the zone on October 23.
A few important points include:
- If you see a crowd of people around the railway tracks, events related to some festival taking place, a fair or any public activity that is unusual, while working, control your speed.
- Inform the nearest station about it. Ensure you provide the information in writing to the stationmaster on the train’s next scheduled stop.
- When at work during the festive season, ensure you continuously “whistle” near crossings and work sites.
- If during duty hours, a gateman, loco-pilot, guard or any railway staff or any member of the public informs the station master of any crowd or activity on the tracks, then the station master should act immediately by informing the RPF, GRP, local police and divisional controller, who will take the required action.
- If the RPF gets notified about crowds on the tracks, they should also act accordingly and inform relevant authorities at the earliest.
And while the above letter aims at creating awareness among railway staffers, an India Today report adds instructions the Railways has issued for passengers too.
- Passengers must not carry explosive items and inflammable substances. (e.g. firecrackers, gas cylinders, gunpowder, kerosene, petrol etc.).
- Smoking is prohibited inside the train compartments or stations.
- Avoid lighting up stoves too.
- Do not engage in any practices that threaten your safety, and most importantly–trespassing on railway tracks.
According to the report, in 2017, more than 2,150 persons were arrested and prosecuted by the RPF for trespassing, with fines imposed to the tune of Rs 8,41,370.
Similarly, until September 2018, 1,557 people were arrested and prosecuted for trespassing on railway tracks, fined to the tune of Rs 4,97,860.
What then are the laws you should be aware of?
- Under Section 147 of the IR Act, 1989, any person found trespassing on the railway tracks will be prosecuted. This will make them liable to a punishment which entails imprisonment for up to six months or a fine Rs 1,000 or both.
- Similarly, those carrying dangerous or offensive goods unlawfully will be liable for a fine of up to Rs 1,000 or imprisonment for a term up to three years, or both. They shall also be liable for any loss, injury and damage caused because of bringing such goods on the train.
Let’s hope that this tragedy helps people, as well as Railway personnel, follow the rules diligently to prevent any tragedies in the future.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)