CHENNAI: “Around 9 am, we were jostling for space. The next minute there was complete silence followed by deafening screams. My mind went blank for a second, but I continued to hold on to the pole in the train. I survived,” recalls C Sudhakar. But his friend was not lucky.
Sudhakar of Perungalathur had boarded the train along with others and was travelling on the footboard. He works in the accounts department of a private firm at T Nagar, while his friend Praveen Raj works at Kodambakkam. The duo have to reach office by 9 am and they usually travel by this train.
On Thursday, Praveen Raj who was near him was pulled down by the other boys who slipped off the train. “I felt a jerk of somebody pushing me, the next minute I went blank, holding on tightly to the pole and then there were screams. Only then, I realised my friends had fallen off the train. I immediately rushed to pull the alarm chain to stop the train, but it broke as I pulled it. We had no other option except to wait till the train stopped at Guindy,” says Sudhakar. Around 40 passengers from the train ran on the tracks to the place where the boys including my friends lay bleeding. “We were all shocked and did not know what to do. His body parts were strewn on the tracks and the sight is still haunting me. This is the same boy I grew up with and we have been friends since Class I. We studied in the same school and lived close by, but on Thursday I was helpless and all I could do is only wait for the ambulance to come and collect his body parts,” he cries.
“We know travelling on the footboard is dangerous. We did not choose to travel that way, but were forced to. We have to reach office by 9 am, else we will have `1,000 deducted from our salary. We ensure we leave home by 8 am so that we are not late.
“Even last month, we were travelling on the footboard and we saw another boy fall at the same spot and was injured. In the last two years, two boys from my locality were injured at the same spot as they slipped from the train. The force that the seven men fell from the train even bent the signal post. How many more men should die for railway officials to ensure that trains run on time” he asks.