The ‘kanwarias’ or devotees of Lord Shiva were on the tracks after alighting from the Samastipur-Saharsa passenger when they were run over by the Saharsa-Patna Rajyarani Express at Dhamara Ghat station in Bihar
A speeding express train ran over devotees waiting on tracks, leaving 35 persons dead in Bihar on Monday. This led to angry protests by locals who attacked the train driver and set afire the train coaches besides the engine of another train at Dhamara Ghat Station in Khagaria district.
According to officials, the ‘kanwarias’ (devotees of Lord Shiva) were on the tracks after alighting from the Samastipur-Saharsa passenger when they were run over by the Saharsa-Patna Rajyarani Express travelling at 80kmph.
Railway Board chairman Arunendra Kumar told reporters that the train was not supposed to halt at Dhamara Ghat and was given clearance to pass through the area but the devotees were on the tracks thinking they could stop the train. He said that it was a case of trespassing as the pilgrims were illegally trying to cross the tracks.
Though the driver applied emergency brakes, it was too late by then, he said, adding that an internal inquiry has been ordered into the incident.
The pilgrims were going to nearby Katyani Sthan temple to offer ‘jalabhishek’ to Lord Shiva on the fourth and final Monday of the holy month of Shrawan when the accident took place.
Soon after the accident, local people attacked the train driver. The engine of the Samastipur-Saharsa passenger train and an AC coach of Saharsa-Patna Rajyarani Express were set on fire by the enraged locals.
ICICI Lombard and Abhibus.com have tied-up to provide travel insurance to bus commuters at a premium of Rs20. This will cover hospitalisation expenses up to Rs1.5 lakh, while the cover for personal accident would be Rs2 lakh. In addition, they will pay Rs500 per day as daily allowance (except for the first 24 hours) in case of hospitalisation for a maximum of seven days.
“It’s Mine” - “No, It’s Mine”
This is not to sound racist and must be taken in the right spirit—as a case of mistaken identity. We always used to say that all Chinese look alike, which is that it would be difficult to tell one apart from the other. But, of course, it was an exaggeration.
Yet, that sort of a thing is not far removed from reality.
Sikhs wear turbans. They are also quite hirsute. This is what happened when even the cars they drove were similar.
Remember how banks, till some time ago, used strong-arm methods to recover their dues. When they faced flak from the courts, they shifted the muscular arm-twisting to what was euphemistically termed ‘collection agents’. Many of them turned out to be no less than the guys that the Dons and the Nosa Costra send out.
Accidents happen. Independently, no one even notices the stray occurrences. But a number of them can happen together. One such constellation occurred some years back at Wagle Estate in Thane. A borrower had taken a loan on a car. He was a Sikh gentleman but even gentlemen can default, sometimes. The bank decided enough was enough. It let loose the ‘agents’ who promptly took up their positions outside the Estate.
Soon they saw their quarry. Sikh. Car. Nab him. Only it wasn’t ‘he’. It was another Sikh who did not know what the hell was going on. Unluckily for him, he had an almost identical car.
Now, you be the judge.
The court came down heavily on the bank. Any advocate worth his salt would have foreclosed the bank, instead of the poor guy. The damages should have been so heavy as to make the Sikh gentleman the owner not only of the car but of the bank itself.
Anyway, the net result was such a public outcry that the ‘agents’ were put out of business. Some time back, we had talked of a civilised society and the rule of law. People cannot take the law into their own hands.
We move to America. A woman in Ohio stayed across the street from another house. She went out, leaving her home locked. When she got back, she discovered that the house had been cleared out. And, new locks installed!
Again, it turned out to be a bank. The mistaken identity turned out to be the fault of the GPS system that pointed to the wrong house. And, since the home was not kept up-to-date, the bankers assumed it to be the home of the borrower who they presumed had run away.
The woman sued. As is usual with the big guys compared to the small ones, instead of settling the claim, the bank asked for receipts of all the goods they had ransacked. The woman said that any such receipts would be in the very belongings that the bankers had taken away.
Now, you be the judge. If you were the woman’s lawyer, what would you do? Charge the bank and its managers and directors with house-breaking, theft, destruction of property, unlawfully restricting her entry and compensation for mental and physical cruelty, coupled with loss of reputation. Can you think of any more charges? Maybe we will now have a new bank owner! We shall soon be writing of another such incident of high-handedness in America in the 1950s in Chicago. It happened to the aunt of the writer’s friend, Don Roeslar, then working with the US embassy in Bombay.
Bapoo Malcolm is a practising lawyer in Mumbai. Please email your comments to [email protected] or [email protected]