Wednesday, May 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Railways unable to ensure passenger safety

THE burning Frontier Mail once again indicates the inability of the railways to ensure the safety of the passengers who have no affordable means to travel other than the unsafe and hazardous trains. As it appears the fire had been due to short circuit or overheating in the wiring looms running. Cigarettes or even stoves cannot simultaneously cause fires in three compartments.

Ideally, the railways should be using fire retardant materials including flame proof wirings for the coaches. Why the railways should be manufacturing the rolling stock in the first place?

Of course, privatisation cannot be a panacea for all ills. But then, the railways must concentrate on its core business of running the trains safely, punctually and efficiently. They must divest from railway ticketing, manufacturing activities, cleaning, catering and their brand new brain wave of making Rail Neer! Bottled water cannot be used to extinguish fires.

In the meantime, there must be an independent and not merely departmental inquiry to unravel the truth of so many train accidents. The inquiry committee should include experts from the railways, academic institutions, relevant industry and non-government professionals. May be this would be an opportune time to recall Mamta to turn the wheels of fortune?




Whenever there is a train accident, either the Railway Minister submits his resignation or the Opposition parties demand his resignation. If, God forbid, four to five major accidents take place in as many days, would more Railway Ministers be introduced?

Instead of this political crossfire, why don’t we concentrate more on railway safety? I do not know why no fire extinguishers are provided in trains. The authorities should provide at least four to five big fire extinguishers in each and every compartment. These should be well welded (so as not to be stolen) to the inner sidewalls with as much long pipes as to cover the whole compartment.



The horrendous inferno did not deter the Indian Army men from showing super human courage in saving about 200 trapped passengers from a certain and fiery death as reported in The Tribune (May 16) under the caption “Army men rescue 200”. These Angels of Mercy risked their life, far beyond any call of duty, purely on humanitarian grounds in the glorious traditions of the Indian Army.

The Indian Army is perhaps the most humane army in the world. That is the reason why, when employed abroad in all UN missions, it has always won the trust and admiration of the civil population of those countries. This winning of trust has been a major cause of its success, as unlike other armies, there had been, if ever, hardly any case of highhandedness with the local people.

Even in Jammu and Kashmir where it is suffering fatalities almost every day, and the provocation high as the militants merge with civilians after causing these incidents, it’s record of preserving human rights is simply excellent as compared to other armies employed on similar hazardous mission, not to mention the Pakistani Army’s record of dealing with their civilians in the then East Pakistan in 1971.

These high moral values give “inner strength” to the Indian Army to outperform even when handicapped with lack of proper equipment as was highlighted by the then Army Chief, General Padmanabhan, when he remarked, “We will fight with whatever we have”, during the Kargil conflict.

The cool courage, organisational skills, selfless devotion to human values of helping the needy even at the risk of one’s own life, and bravery of the exceptional order shown by the soldiers involved in the rescue deserve to be recognised and rewarded. The soldiers concerned must be given the highest civilian award in addition to the recognition of the same by the military.


A clear case of murder

THE editorial “Madam, it’s murder” (May 17) rightly pointed out that it was a clear case of murder. Shockingly despite all available evidence raising accusing fingers towards Mr Amar Mani Tripathi, till recently the then Minister for Stamps and Stationery, the police reportedly under directions of top political bosses, are busy destroying the evidence.

The CB-CID inquiry announced by Chief Minister Mayawati will serve no purpose as it is under her direct control. If she is sincere about her public declarations of booking the accused, she must immediately hand over the case to the CBI.

Nobody would have objected to the affair between the former Minister and the poetess. Affairs of politicians cutting across party lines are quite common and have often hit the media headlines.. Sometimes politicians develop intimacy with the opposite sex with their consent. But shockingly sometimes, they coerce or blackmail their victims. Till such affairs are confined to bedroom or hotel rooms or hill stations, nobody will object considering them as somebody’s private life.

However, after the murder of 22-year-old Madhumita Shukla in mysterious circumstances, it is the right of every citizen of the country to know the details of the episode. Her family members may or may not press for probe is not significant as it is a heinous crime under the Indian Penal Code.

It seems that this case will also be forgotten by everyone including the media like the case of a top Punjab IAS officer who was even rewarded with important departments. After getting a clean chit from the CB-CID, Ms Mayawati may again induct Mr Amar Mani Tripathi in her Cabinet. After all, she also needs some upper caste faces as ornamental flowers in her cabinet.



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