BENGALURU: Railway tracks across South Western Railway (SWR) Zone are emerging as major death zones with a total of 3,801 individuals found dead by Karnataka Railway Police in the past three calendar years. The trend only seems to be increasing, with 317 deaths being reported in 2022 up to March 10. If the Shatabdi Express running over of a youngster at Tyakal station, 60 km from Bengaluru, last week sparked outrage among the public, these daily occurrences are more shocking.
The Unidentified Death Report (UDR) recorded by Government Railway Police (GRP) includes cases of trespass, individuals murdered on tracks, or murdered elsewhere but bodies thrown on the tracks, as well as accidental falls from trains, explained a senior government official. Another official said the numbers are quite high, bearing in mind the fact that many trains were not operational or ran with restricted occupancy in 2021 and 2020, due to the pandemic.
Max deaths in Bengaluru Div
Data shared by GRP reveals that Bengaluru Railway Division is the most dangerous section in SWR, with maximum deaths occurring here. Of 3,801 deaths reported from 2019 to 2021, the maximum of 531 deaths were recorded by Bengaluru Rural police station, 499 UDRs were recorded by Bengaluru City Railway Police station, while Cantonment Railway Police station recorded the third highest number with 348 deaths. Bengaluru City and Rural areas recorded 50 and 48 deaths respectively from January 1 till March 10.
ADGP, Railways, Bhaskar Rao told TNIE that the use of sophisticated noise cancellation headphones by youngsters was compounding the problem, as they are completely unaware of happenings around. “We have put up posters highlighting the dangers of not being alert on the tracks. However, deaths continue to happen,” he explained.
Many deaths occur when family members and friends who come to see off their loved ones dash out of moving trains at the last minute. “We need to put an end to the culture of sending off people up to the train, as in New York, Paris and other big cities. Another method would be to adopt technology which will ensure automatic closure of compartment doors,” Rao suggested.
Mobile and selfie deaths
A total of 24 deaths have occurred on tracks in SWR in the past three years and up to February this year due to talking on mobiles or listening to music, and the desire to take selfies. Baiyappanahalli Railway Station seems to have set a different record with nine deaths -- the maximum -- occurring on its tracks on these counts. It is closely followed by Yesvantpur station with eight, of which five were recorded in 2021.