The Tragedy of an Indian Tragedy | A tale of two cities, Two Train Accidents

Before we begin our discussion, let us invest a moment to pray for those who were affected.
Those who lost their lives may their souls rest in peace.
Those who lost their near and dear ones may God bless them courage.
Those who got injured wish them a speedy recovery.
Those who suffer the trauma of watching it happen in front of their eyes, may God not show them another.

A tale of two cities is a novel by Charles Dickens, which your dad might have read had it been a part of his curriculum or had he been an avid reader. The novel set in London and Paris throws light on the plight of peasantry due to the French aristocracy, which eventually leads to a revolution to overthrow the aristocracy. But the country I am going to talk about is not France and the cities are not Paris and London. I am going to talk about India, and its two cities are Fatehpur and Rangiya.

Kalka Express Derailment | Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh
Kalka Express Derailment | Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh

We are talking about two gruesome accidents that happened in a time span of less than 24 hours. 10 July 2011 12:20 PM, an accident occurred at Fatehpur, where Delhi Howrah/ Kalka mail derailed killing over 60 people and injuring over a hundred of them.
Over a hundred people were injured as Guwahati-Puri Express derailed in Assam due to a blast on Sunday night. The train derailed near Rangia area of the Kamrup district in Assam due to bomb, allegedly planted by the Adivasi group, blasted off the tracks and dismantled four bogies of the train.

It certainly raises questions on the railway technical management systems, and the managers –the ministers, the officials. Ministers? Yeah! The first thing one expects to watch on news channels after a train mishap is a two minute word from the honorable(if any) railway minister (if any) talking of four things- Muaavza, Saza, Raza, Khiza, sounds too melodramatic Urdu. Never mind if you don’t understand any. By the end of the article you most certainly would.


Manmohan Singh | PM of India
Manmohan Singh | PM of India
First word that comes to one’s mind after an accident in a public department or a terrorist activity is Muaavza i.e. compensation. I don’t say Government pays a price of a life. What Government tries to do is help them mourn the loss of a life, rather than an earner. PM Manmohan Singh did his level best in the only thing he could do. He officially announced the compensation of Rs. 1 lac for the dead, Rs. 50k for the seriously injured and Rs. 30k for people with minor injuries in the Malwa Rail accident. This is only half the story and a bigger story rests behind the curtain. Compensation has been announced, when it will be sanctioned, when it will it reach the needy, or rather will it reach the needy, is a bigger story that only time knows well of.

A man lost got his left hand paralyzed in the serial train blasts of 2006 in Mumbai. Fortunately or unfortunately his face didn’t suffer major injuries. The compensation bench put him under minimally injured category and compensated him with Rs. 20k. Due to a disabled arm, he was subsequently fired or in more civilized language served an early retirement from his job. Lack of medical aids led to complete paralysis in left half of his body. He’s still alive waiting, waiting, and waiting, not for compensation.


Mukul Roy | Minister Trinamool Congress
Mukul Roy | Minister Trinamool Congress
The second word Saza means punishment. To whom these mishaps are most savaging. If you ask me, I would answer the ministers. Prime Minister, who is going through the worst phase of his life is again in the limelight. And again, not for good reasons. He has been fighting his way through Lokpal, gulping packs of disprins with mugs and jugs of water. If he wants to put things to silence, Anna and Ramdev come up all guns blazing (not literally).If he does nothing, media calls him a weak PM. If he orders abduction of baba Ramdev, the opposition comes hitting at him. Now, when a train accident occurs, he shuffles through files to get an idea of who the hell was the railway minister. And to his biggest nightmare, he finds Railway Minister Mamta Bannerjee has given up railway ministry couple of months back as and when she was elected Chief Minister of West Bengal. She made it loud and clear, her party Trinamool Congress is her first love. Panic Panic! He tries to find a way out, calls the minister of state for railways in Assam, Mukul Roy who was just few hundred kilometers away in West Bengal then, and urges him to reach the Rangiya Station in Assam to have a look at the proceedings, and give some good poses for the Sunday Times. Ah! Problem solved. Umm.. not quite.. Just like kids sometimes deny their asking dads, giving a damn to his size and reputation. Mukul Roy denied and accompanied his mummy, I mean his party Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee to Jangalmahal.

So, saza is for the PM who has to juggle files just after taking a sip of his hot bed tea. Saza could have been for Mukul Roy, had he given up his picnic plans to Jangalmahal. He somehow escaped. When asked why he didn’t show up there at the mishap site in Rangiya, Assam. "I am not the railway minister, the PM is," he said as he slammed the door of his car and sped away.


At the end of the day, a tired PM, asks his even tired PA to prepare a one minute word for the press. His PA edits the template in file named Rail Accident.docx, and puts in the name of the mishap site, enters the new compensation scheme and submits the print out on the bright white paper. PM after his evening tea reaches for the press,

It’s a sad time for the nation. This much compensation for the dead, injured etc. We empathize with those affected. We hope the nation doesn’t see any more such events.

Raza means hope. No matter how much loss a disaster brings about, all we are left to do is Raza that no such incidents happen again. How easy! Isn’t it? No new technology or safety measures are talked of. No new special security or management officials are appointed. No person is questioned; no measures are taken to find out the possible reasons for the mishap. If by chance probes are set up, they are discontinued and forgotten before they yield any results. Political hangover lasts until a fresh masala accident buzzes on the news channels and the story continues. Life is least valued.
Our system works on the age old philosophy of a word newly added to the oxford dictionary, Jugaad.
“ Ise dava ki nahi dua ki zarurat hai”. It is left up to God to fulfill hopes and grant wishes. We’re busy sipping tea, enjoying our picnic, reading newspapers, and writing blogs.


Khiza means autumn. Autumn is a season of melancholy that lasts a month or so and relinquishes trees of leaves. The trees turn green again as winter approaches. But the people who have lost their near and dear ones, will they ever be able to come at par. Will they ever be able to accept that loss, accept that the person needed so dearly in their lives is no more, and accept that they won’t find a glimpse of the person who they joked like hell the other day? For me and you it will end in a couple of days, like any other khiza, not quite for these people.

A girl breaks after seeing her mother's dead body in malwan rail accident
A girl breaks after seeing her mother's dead body

About the Title

The tragedy isn't that the two trains derailed. The tragedy is that they'll keep derailing. People will keep struggling for lives and compensations. Washington Metro recorded 62 accidents in an year. But there is hardly any political drama. Man made disasters are part and parcel of development. We can minimize them, but not avoid them. What we can certainly work on is disaster management. It is very sad that we hardly talk about the quickness and skill with which the situations were handled in both the cities as we are too busy with PM and Mukul Roy drama.

The reason I mentioned, a tale of two cities is that common man is angered up, and a revolution might turn the tables any moment. Time and stages might be different but the situation isn’t quite.

As I am about to finish this article, I browse the news channels to know that serial blasts took off in Mumbai. And I am left asking friends and colleagues if everyone is alright.

God !  I beg Peace!

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