Sir — Repeated train accidents and robberies have become a cause for concern (“Robber run on unguarded train,” July 30). So much so that expectations of a safe and secure train journey seem to be a luxury nowadays. Just after the Sainthia train accident hit the headlines on July 19, passengers in five coaches of the Bihar-bound Tata-Chhapra Express were looted by 30 robbers. Railway officials were nowhere to be seen when the gang of robbers got their accomplices into the train by pulling the chain and stopping the train.
The robbers carried out their operation for about an hour in five compartments that had no escorts. During this time, neither the driver nor the guard bothered to find out what had occasioned the sudden halt. Whenever a moving train is stopped by pulling the chain, it is common practice for the assistant driver to first locate the compartment from where the vacuum has been released and then to plug the device manually, allowing the train to move again. But nobody made an effort to follow procedure in this case. Instead, in typical Bollywood fashion, the gang robbed the passengers and fled with the booty in motorcycles and SUVs parked near the railway tracks. In the process, a 70-year-old passenger suffered a gash in his left palm for which he had to be hospitalized.
Surprisingly, the 30 dacoits faced no resistance from passengers. In Howrah-bound local trains, one can see passengers of the vendor compartment ordering the driver to move after they have loaded their consignments. The drivers religiously follow these instructions, paying little heed to the real signal, probably because their palms are greased. One cannot rule out the possibility of such a pact between the robbers and the driver in the Tata-Chhapra Express mishap.
While the causes of the mysterious accident at Sainthia are still being investigated, this ghastly robbery took place in Purulia. After the Sainthia accident, the railway minister, Mamata Banerjee, had blamed the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for the tragedy, stating that it was an act of sabotage. Such a casual approach, exonerating the real culprits — the lackadaisical railway authorities — dilutes the gravity of the situation. It gives a free hand to the callous employees, who should be punished. Banerjee cannot act as their saviour. The problems besetting the railways need to be identified immediately. Banerjee should realize that the existing infrastructure is no longer strong enough to meet the increasing passenger load. It needs to be updated without delay.
The railway protection force should be deployed in all long distance trains. The RPF should not only be present but it should also be made to do its duty diligently. The RPF personnel have a habit of retiring to the five or six berths allotted to them after doing a few rounds in vestibuled trains.
Subhankar Mukherjee, Borehat, Burdwan
Sir — It is strange but I must confess I am happy that Dimpy Ganguly had walked out on her husband, Rahul Mahajan, alleging domestic violence (“TV bed: too hot & warm”, July 31). When Mahajan’s swayamvar was being aired on television, I kept wondering how the 16 girls participating in the ‘contest’ could be so blind to reality of Mahajan’s character. Perhaps it was the instant stardom offered by the show that had made all the girls register their names.
Mahajan has made headlines after the death of his father, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Pramod Mahajan. It is no secret that he took drugs and even tortured his first wife. It is surprising that young Ganguly chose a man like Mahajan as her life partner. But in today’s world, name and fame are all that matter, and Ganguly had opted for these. She took the short cut to stardom by marrying Mahajan. Her case has proved yet again that without hard work, success cannot last.
Ganguly can still become popular if she can punish her husband and get justice for herself. The way-out of the situation cannot lie in the conventional path of shedding tears and winning sympathy votes. Ganguly must act responsibly.
Amrita Mallik, Calcutta
Sir — Indian media are guilty of unnecessarily projecting Rahul Mahajan as a celebrity. Was it right for the electronic media to include him as a star in reality shows, not once but twice, when he has a history of drug abuse and domestic violence? The projection of a notorious person as a hero by the media has a bad effect on the young generation which might think that Mahajan is a hero.
The government or the concerned autonomous bodies should put a check on the media. The National Commission for Women has rightly asked the government to ban real marriages in reality shows. That such marriages can become the bane of the lives of immature girls is proved by the case of Ganguly.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Dariba, Delhi
The second sentence of the editorial, “Mantle of a Hindu” (Aug 8), should begin, “From writers like Christopher Isherwood, who had his epiphany in a meeting by the river to an outstanding scholar, Leopold Fischer, who donned the ochre robe as Swami Agehananda Bharati...”, and not as printed. The error is regretted.
— The Editor