Activists slam Railway for calling Monica More’s accident as a case of ‘trespassing’

Mumbai: The railways have categorized Monica More’s accident as a case of trespassing, raising the hackles of activists.

“Whenever an accident on tracks is brought to the notice of the station master, he designates it as a case of trespassing. We have asked railway authorities to discontinue this practice and mention specifics,” said activist Bhavesh Patel.

It is a misleading practice that can convey the wrong facts to higher railway authorities, said Subash Gupta of Yatri Sangh. “If the exact cause of an accident is mentioned, top officials can take corrective measures.”

For example, if an accident is caused by the existence of a wide gap between a compartment’s foot-board and the platform, railway officials can increase the platform’s height. But the cause of the accident needs to be acknowledged.

“By categorizing an accident as trespassing, railway officials try to evade culpability,” said Patel. “Causes like falling on tracks due to overcrowding or footboard-platform gap will bring lack of safety into focus.”

After an accident on tracks, the station master writes a memo for the GRP, mentioning trespassing. The GRP then takes the victim to the nearest hospital.

Railway officials defended the practice, saying that use of the word is a technicality. “What’s mentioned in the memo doesn’t prevent a victim from seeking compensation from the Railway Claims Tribunal. The accident is investigated by the GRP, which bases its report on evidence, eyewitness accounts and victim’s statement,” said an official. “Usually, we do not challenge victims’ claims. As per the Railway Act, trespassers are not entitled to any compensation.