A Petrifying Experience on the Mumbai Locals

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A lot of times unexpectedly we are witness to events that we can’t forget for a long time. These are some visuals our eyes see and probably shock us but we can’t take them out of our mind even after persistent trials. They just wouldn’t go.

I remember seeing this lady lying near the Emporium Complex in Connaught Place, back in November 2010. Striking visual. Forced me to think and even write a blog entry (Read here). But the image, it just never goes away.

And then there was another recent incident that I was witness to. A much graver one. It was a Sunday and I was at Goregaon Station in Mumbai. Half past 12 in the afternoon.
The morning hours at a typical Western line station after the 7-10 AM rushhour. Location: Goregaon Station, Mumbai
Sundays for Mumbai local travellers could be problematic if one is not aware of the ‘megablocks’. I was to take a train to Dadar, from where I had to catch the Jan Shatabdi to Aurangabad. I learnt that the slow trains were running from platform #4, instead of the usual #2 due to maintenance work. I climbed the foot over bridge and got down at #4, to find a fast train standing at the platform. If a train is already standing when you get to the platform, do not take it. You can always wait for the next one rather than risking your life, my friend had told me right on the first day of reaching Mumbai.

I slowed down seeing the heavy rush of commuters trying to get into the train. As was expected, the train started moving within a few seconds and people running with it to get even a little space to simply put their foot while hanging out of the door. The trains accelerate fast, just like Metro trains. Suddenly at the nearby door, people were screaming for their family members to get on board, as the train gathered speed. The next moment I saw a guy falling from the door into the platform. There was chaos. Sounds of shouts and cries. The speed of the train acting as a magnet to pull the fallen guy towards it. People standing at the platform reacted immediately, catching hold of the guy, not letting him fall onto the tracks. A life was saved.

I was a silent witness from a few yards away, watching in horror everything that just happened. The train sped away fast. A sigh of relief.

Immediately there were necks craning towards the tracks from the end of the platform, mine included, curious. And then the visual struck me.

Lying there between the track and the platform was a lady in salwar. She lay there completely still. Motionless. I couldn’t see her head. Probably it was bent in someway, as she lay their crumpled. She looked normal. No speck of blood anywhere. A few people immediately jumped on the track, including the guy who had just been saved. A crowd had already gathered. They picked her up and carried her away. Just in time making way for the next local entering the platform.

I moved away. In the opposite direction. Unable to accept what I had just seen. It happened right there in front of my eyes. Did she live? I didn’t want to find the answer.

Later that day, as I recounted the experience to my uncle and wondered why no news channel was showing it, he said, “That’s something very common. So many deaths happen in the locals everyday.”

Sure enough, a quick Google search revealed startling facts. Various sources put the number of lives lost in the Mumbai locals anywhere between 600-2000 per year.

I don’t know who to blame. The government for not making provisions for safety for the ever-increasing demand on the local trains, OR the travellers who in a desperate attempt to get on a train probably become a bit careless about their own safety?

It’s so easy for death to take over someone. One moment you are waiting with your family, your parents, your children, your brothers and sisters, to catch a train with loads of plans for the day and the future, and the next moment everything changes… forever.

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  1. It's really heart rending to see such things... :-(

  2. It's definitely heart breaking to witness such an accident.
    I somewhere agree with you. Who should we put the blame on? The desperate people, the careless and ignorant government or the media, who has shut its eyes on such cases?

    1. It's probably got to be a collaborative effort from all sides- the people, the government and the media.


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