The morning of 29 September started off just like any other day for daily commuters at Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road station, but little did they know that the events would turn into an unforgettable ordeal .
The deadly stampede had ensued after a rumour floated that the Parel Foot-over-Bridge (FOB) had collapsed or was collapsing. This resulted in panic among the commuters in the station and on the bridge. The incident killing 23 people and injuring dozens had taken place while it was raining and several commuters had gathered at the bridge waiting for the rain to subside.
This man-made disaster was not unforeseeable as the Western Railway Authorities and the Hon’ble Railway Minister Mr. Suresh Prabhu were repeatedly warned about the dilapidated condition of the the Parel FOB for a long time. There were also a categorical demand for widening the said FOB to accommodate the heavy crowd it experiences day after day.
‘The Spirit of Mumbai’ is a cliché used to bring out the helpful nature of the city’s inhabitants when a catastrophe strikes . This spirit, a matter of pride earlier, has become the city’s shame because it is a mere fig leaf for citizens’ lack of involvement in the political process and their utter disregard for holding public servants accountable.Mumbaikars themselves are so self-absorbed in their day-to-day struggle that they find holding politicians accountable a lost cause. Less than half the city’s voters turn up at polling booths during the General and State elections, and the voting percentage during municipal polls is even more abysmal.
It is imperative that the people behind the man made tragedy must be identified and prosecuted. It is not a case of mere negligence. It is much more. Those who were warned about the precarious condition of the FOB must be prosecuted for culpable homicide. For, unless stern action is taken, the subsisting ‘chalta hai’ attitude will continue.
My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.