About the Amritsar Accident

What happened at the Joda Phatak in Amritsar on that fateful night of Dussehra was most unfortunate and could have been easily avoided, had the authorities taken proper precautions. The Dhobi Ghat was no place for such a large scale ceremony. The blame game had begun and it is all bound to get murky as politics gets involved.

The thing is, it is not going to change anything. Not because a common Indian does not want change, or cannot change but because, there is no way this systematic, institutionalized chaos can change. I have been to the Harpalpur Railway Station. The fabled station is half in Madhya Pradesh and half in Uttar Pradesh. Harpalpur falls in Chhatarpur district, Madhya Pradesh. But, many of its petrol pumps fall in Uttar Pradesh and offer significantly cheaper fuel rates. But that is where the advantages end.

The railway station has been in a state of neglect for years. The political leadership is handicapped and disgustingly sterile. Same is the case with Panna, Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh and other surrounding districts. Especially Panna, which is literally blessed with diamond mines. Instead of being a prosperous town, the place is in tatters. The public anger against leaders of the lowest order is stifled because of the inadequate social and economic development here. It is indeed a vicious circle. The area won’t develop unless there are potent politicians. The politicians are impotent because the public won’t raise their voices and won’t vote them out. The public won’t use the power of the ballot because it is still stuck in time and the votes are based on caste and religion. And thus, impotent, criminal-minded politicians are churned out year after year.

The results of such a dismal state of affairs are seen on public amenities such as railways. There is no foot over bridge to cross the railway tracks. In Harpalpur, if you need to go to platform no. 2, you must cross the tracks on foot and risk dying. There are no coolies so, if you are on a wheelchair, you are encouraged to give up travelling by train.

There is one more issue. It is a single line track and sometimes, freight trains block the tracks. That is when the Station Master is forced to announce that the scheduled train would not be coming on either of the platforms but on the middle track. People are made to walk down to the gravel path, risking slipping and getting mowed down by a speeding train; simply to board their stupid train. And yes, this is in 2018.

Another major town Chhatarpur that is 70 kilometers from Harpalpur was given a train station just this year. And that too has just one fast train for Bhopal. No trains to Katni, Jhansi, Gwalior. Well, there is one crappy slow passenger train but that is hardly a consolation for years of blood-sucking by the local politicians.

When one sees the pain of the poor, working class person in these regions of Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand, the heart breaks. How do these politicians sleep at nights? With their expensive SUV caravans, leaving behind a trail of dust on our faces; creating ruckus in hospitals and schools by politicizing everything, with their nephews and uncles and wives and sons getting richer and more powerful on the common man’s blood and sacrifice – how do they sleep at nights?

The answer is – “Very comfortably.”

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