For 45-year-old Mamta Sharma and her two children, crossing the railway tracks is a routine affair. With the foot overbridge a long walk away, and the children’s school on the other side of the tracks, the family doesn’t really think of the risk involved every time they take a shortcut.
Sharma and her family live in Hari Nagar near Ashram, next to the railway tracks which connect Nizamuddin and Tughlakabad railway stations in south Delhi. On Tuesday evening, three persons died after being hit by a train while crossing these very tracks. Two have been identified so far.
But for local residents living in the 15-km stretch along the tracks, such incidents are nothing new. Police said around 30 deaths have taken place in such accidents this year alone on this stretch.
Police said people avoid taking the foot overbridge because that involves a longer walk. “A foot overbridge was made at Harkesh Nagar near Tughlakabad railway station for pedestrians between Pul Prahladpur and Badarpur, but people hardly use it. Most of them take a short-cut to cross the tracks,” said the officer.
“On Tuesday itself, apart from these three deaths near Ashram, two more deaths took place near the Tughlakabad railway station. Of them one was a woman who lived nearby and worked at a private factory. She would cross the tracks daily to go to her house. There is a foot overbridge nearby but she didn’t take it,” said the officer.
Bhedi (57), who mans the tracks near Ashram, told The Indian Express that people are not serious about the threat to their lives every time they cross the tracks. “I frequently request them to not cross like this but they want to take a shortcut. Just two months ago, I saw a bicyclist get hit by a train.”
Abhay Kumar, who stays in Nehru Nagar, near Ashram, claimed, “People were shouting at him so he wouldn’t cross but he was in a hurry. He died on the spot. A similar incident took place in January this year, when another cyclist was run over.”
Police also claimed the railway tracks are frequented by people who consume alcohol in the evening. Often, they slip in through broken fences to reach the tracks.
When contacted, Joint Commissioner of Police (Transport) Atul Katiyar said, “People have to decide not to cross the tracks like this. We conduct patrolling on the tracks and keep intimating Railways about new problems.”