RASHMI OBEROI | 21 OCTOBER, 2018
Amritsar Train Tragedy: Where Life Has No Value
Looking for scapegoats when all are at fault
We never learn lessons from the past. The Amritsar tragedy could have easily been avoided. It should never have happened in the first place. Watch the news and you will notice that every news channel has found a scapegoat – it differs with each channel. They come with their theories after having conducted their own investigations to reach such conclusions.
But, in my mind, the responsibility and onus clearly lies on everyone present in that place at that given time and not only the local administration for choosing such an unsafe venue without any foresight about safety measures in place. Be it the railways, the organisers, the police, the crowds present, the civil administration – everyone had erred.
Even though the Ramleela has traditionally been held on this so-called ground, year after year, had no one thought about the dangers of such a location? The Ravana effigy was only 70 meters away from the rail track… That in itself should have raised concerns. Religious functions are always a crowd puller and on most occasions the crowds run riot and are difficult to control. A handful of policemen to handle such gatherings is a mammoth task.
We need to place the onus on ourselves before pointing fingers at others. Each person has to be responsible for his safety first and foremost. It is a known fact that when things get out of control, indiscipline and disorderly behaviour is but natural. It is not easy to control crowds in an environment where safety issues are lurking in every corner. Any gathering of people at any given time is always bordering on chaos.
Let us also face the stark fact that human lives don’t matter anymore… They are just vote banks – plain and simple. Loss of lives is accepted with a shrug of the shoulders. It appears that a human life has no worth. It is cheap and meaningless to others. A commoner’s life is worthless in India as there is no concept of safety measures being in place at any given point. The security of human lives is always ignored. It is taken for granted and it is reduced to the lowest stature. It only matters when the politician needs his vote for power.
In reality, organisers and civil administration everywhere will continue to brazenly shrug off all responsibility and display sheer callousness and apathy…as they always do. Even though professional negligence and irresponsible behaviour are akin to committing a crime which means that the guilty should be punished but in order for that to happen, there have to be systems and strictures in place to nail the guilty. Unfortunately, there is no defined structure and hence who do you blame?
We all know that enquiries hold no meaning and yield no results. No one will probably be held guilty but something has to be done to hold people accountable…to pin them down when they let down their own people through gross negligence. The anguish and helplessness of the victim’s families is reverberating through the country. Unfortunately, their cries fall on deaf ears.
Isn’t it tragic that Dussehra revellers who were saying adieu to the Ravana effigy in flames – were clueless that they had yet to come face to face with the real-time, evil one who would suck away their lives in seconds? The factual Ravana today lives and breathes through us till such time we are able to define, understand and follow well laid out systems and accountability.
Can a crisis management group now bring back the dead? Sadly, this horrific tragedy is not expected to change anything in India's attitude towards public safety. Therein lies the real tragedy, don’t you think?