The residents of the Akash Horizon Premises Cooperative Society Limited, located bang opposite Western Railway’s (WR) car shed at Mumbai Central (east side), have complained about constant air and noise pollution, they are suffering for nearly one decade, due to the work of maintenance of trains, in the car shed adjacent to their building.
The testing, recharging and maintenance of Rajdhani. Shatabdi and Duronto trains is done in the open shed, touching the compound wall of the Aakash building. While shunting of coaches/locomotives and testing of power cars generates a lot of noise, a lot of smoke is emanated by the diesel generators, which straightway flows in the flats of the residents. The generators also cause vibration, due to which the compound wall of the building was collapsed some time back.
The work also causes financial loss to the railways since it has been using outdated technology. The testing can be done through less expensive electric power generators, as against age-old diesel operated generators. The diesel is much more expensive, Sulaiman Bhimani, President, Citizen Justice Forum said.
Mirza Baig, Hon Gen Secretary of the society, who has been following up the matter with WR since long, in a letter dated 5 December 2017, to Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), has pointed out that the railways recharge generators day in and day out causing considerable amount of noise and sound pollution.
The 19 story building accommodates over 1000 people, most of whom are senior citizens. The work goes on till 4 AM disturbing peace in the area, Baig has stated requesting WR to take corrective step to stop this nuisance. The “Equinox Labs” in its report dated 17 March 2016, had stated that the noise level in the shed was 94.4 decibels as against specified limit of 55 decibels. If the railways fail to take corrective action, then we will be left with no option but to approach the court, Baig said.
Additionally, BMC’s Nair Hospital, catering to lakhs of patients, which is in close proximity of the yard, and thousands of residents in the neighbourhood also has to bear the noise and air pollution emanating from the yard.
Earlier, in response to a query under RTI by the resident Laeek Chunawala, ADME (BCT), WR vide letter dated 31 December 2015, had admitted that the department had not obtained any NOC for the work. Similarly DEE/RS/BCT vide letter dated 7 January 2016 had stated that the EMU shed is for day to day maintenance of EMU rakes and is not covered under Factories Act 1948.
Way back in 2009, the then WR GM R N Verma, in a letter dated 4 December 2009 to former MP and Minister Milind Deora, had stated that the rescheduling of the work of testing power cars has been done so that the residents are list disturbed. But of no avail.
Under article 21 of constitution of India, every citizen has right to live in clean and peaceful environment and it is the responsibility of state to provide it. It is expected of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to give relief to citizens, who include senior citizens, women and children, Bhimani said. There was no response to detailed email seeking clarification sent to WR DRM.
How can officials exploit rag picker children to pick dead bodies from railway tracks? When I first read the news of a 12 year old rag picker boy forced to pick up a severed limb of a dead body on the railway tracks at Indore, I thought the newspaper had reprinted an old story of abuse. Near identical stories. But the devil is in the detail, this one is a repeat incident. Which makes me wonder if Indore Railway station has made a habit out of exploiting street kids for dirty work that the bloated government employees don't like. Like picking dead bodies.
Reproducing both stories here. You tell me, should Indore station be investigated for child torture?
Indore: 12-year-old boy forced to pick up mutilated body from railway track
Indore: A-12-year old boy was allegedly made to pick up a mutilated body part of a suicide victim from the railway track in Indore by the railway police officials. A top level police investigation has been ordered into the case.
The men in uniform reached the tracks a little later after a labourer named Dhanraj reportedly threw himself in front of the train and committed suicide. One of the railway police officials reached the spot and waited for other team members. The body lay on the track while other trains continued to pass over it.
Finally, the officials shifted the body from the track. However, a mutilated limb was left behind on the track. The officials then allegedly made a minor rag-picker do the job.
"The police asked me to pick up the mutilated body part. I refused but they pressured me," the boy said.
After this shocking incident was raised by the media, senior railway police officials sprung into action and a DSP level probe was ordered in the case.
Deputy Superintendent of Police GRP Mankamna Prasad told NDTV,"We have recorded statement of our officials but we are not able to trace the boy. Our team is looking for him. As soon as we record his statement I will submit the investigation report. If officials are guilty we will make sure they face departmental exchange."
The State Commission for Protection of Child rights is closely monitoring the developments in this case, and will be seeking a report from the railway police on the issue and also the action they propose to take. The commission is worried about the minor who they fear may be psychologically affected by the incident.
Chairman of State Commission for Protection of Child rights told, NDTV,"This incident may instil a sense of fear in the mind of the boy which can affect him life long. So the child will need counselling. We will also order the SP to trace that boy and do the needful for him."
This is not the first time that such incident has been reported in Indore. Two years ago, a minor was asked to pick up body parts from the track. In that case, railways police officials were found guilty and also had to face punishment.
Police force a child to gather severed human parts in Indore
Despicable it might be, yet it is a relatively irrelevant incident in India. The latest is the case of Firoz, a 12-year-old boy who is now reportedly suffering from serious psychological trauma after being forced by a Head Constable of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to gather the severed remains of a human body run over by a train in Indore, Madhya Pradesh state. The incident happened on 26 September 2011 in full public view. According to the psychiatrist, Dr Ramghulam Razdan, Head of Department, Department of Psychiatry, at the MGM Medical College, who examined Firoz, the boy could be suffering from a "permanent phobic reaction" or that he has developed a "psychotic behaviour" as the direct result of his horrific experience. Firoz is reported to be a rag-picker boy, living in Indore, who initially refused to do the illegal job, but was forced to by the police constable, who also paid him Rs 100. DNA, an independent media group reported the incident on 1 October 2011.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is aware that this is not an isolated incident or an exception in any form in India, Madhya Pradesh in particular. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Madhya Pradesh is on top in the list of states concerning crimes committed against children in the country.
The AHRC is also aware that the RPF and the state police regularly resort to similar illegal methods when they have to deal with dead bodies of persons run over by a train or in cases where the state police have to deal with persons found dead in unnatural circumstances. For instance, the state police in Tamilnadu often pay Rs 100 and offer a bottle of illegal liquor to children who are ordered to 'pack-up' unidentified and unclaimed dead bodies, often found in different stages of putrefaction.
Mr Louise, living in Pavitram village of Thiruvannamali district, who is now aged 20 years used to do this 'job' for the RPF. Louise was first forced to do the 'job' when he was 12-years-old. He continues to do so and today he is the person 'who handles the dead' in the village and has now made it his profession. The AHRC and its partner organisation in West Bengal state, MASUM have been reporting about how inhumanly dead bodies are handled in state-run mortuaries in that state. MASUM has documented dozens of cases in West Bengal, where it is a Dom - name of a particular Dalit community in India, who undertakes the 'autopsy examination' using crude tools, whereas the medical doctor would observe it from a distance. MASUM and the AHRC has also reported cases of dead bodies left unattended, putrefied and body parts eaten away by dogs and rats in government morgues in West Bengal. Despite the reportage, the state government has done nothing so far to improve the situation. Illegal it might be for the authorities to engage a boy or a private person to deal with a dead body in what is in essence a crime scene or a scientific examination. But in India, this is how things are.
Lack of discipline and dereliction to duty that is often condoned by the superiors in the law enforcement agencies; relative absence of accountability; lack of skills and equipments; and the overall belief of impurity associated with dealing with dead bodies often based on caste beliefs along with the practical convenience for the police of having not to physically deal with the dead are the reasons why such practices exist in India today. In essence, Firoz is one more victim of the systemic culture of neglect, lack of accountability and the resultant culture of impunity omnipresent within the law enforcement agencies in the country. In that the Head Constable who forced Firoz to do this despicable job and paid him for it had been acting quite naturally and normally as far as India is concerned.
Shocking the incident might be, yet it must not be a surprise to anyone in India. Take for instance the Indian Railway itself. Despite the country having developed nuclear weapons and scheduled to declare itself as 'developed' by 2020, the Indian Railways is the single largest network of open toilet on wheels in the world.
Human faeces, sprayed on rails and rail sleepers (cross-tie), is a common sight in every railway station and on every inch of the rail network in the country, which is the largest in the world. In that, the Indian Railway still is to realise that there is something called a 'closed closet' technology invented and used widely in the world today, that toilets inside transport vehicles do not cause a hygiene hazard to the public. The concern for the Indian Railways for the ordinary people including its own employees is most visible once again at railway stations where manual scavengers, clean with a broom, human faeces from the rails. In that, the Indian Railway is the single largest employer of manual scavengers in the world - often recruited from the Dalit community and railway stations are the largest open toilets in the country. One of worst predicaments of the Dalits in India is indeed the practice of manual scavenging, repeatedly documented by rights groups, but equally denied by the Government of India.
It is reported that when several people who witnessed the brutal and inhuman predicament of Firoz, complained about it to the RPF, the RPF suspend the Head Constable from service pending inquiry and transferred five other officers. From experience, about the manner in which dereliction of duty is dealt within the law enforcement agencies in India, it has to be assumed that the only reaction by the authorities concerning this incident would be just this transfer and the temporary suspension of the Head Constable.
The reaction by Firoz when he learned that complaints have been made regarding the incident is to flee from home. Understandably this is the best a poor person in India could do, if the person becomes the cause for 'trouble' to a police officer - run, as far as possible, beyond the reach of the officer! It is reported that Firoz fled to a place called Omkareshwar, about 85 kilometres away from Indore fearing that the Head Constable would come for his blood.
Given the manner in which complaints are dealt with in India, it is possible that the Head Constable produces - and if there is an inquiry, it concludes - that Firoz did the job, on his own volition. The RPF might also produce Firoz's signed statement in support for such a defence and statements of similar rag-picker boys, or probably of a shopkeeper and a few other 'chance witnesses'.
Madhya Pradesh state has a Child Welfare Committee. It needs to be seen whether the Committee would take any sensible action upon this case. At the very least, will the Child Welfare Officer, having jurisdiction upon the police station where the incident happened, would take any action on this case?
There would not be an inquiry how and why the Head Constable picked a rag-picker boy to do his job. None would bother to ask how a rag-picker boy becomes so vulnerable to brute exploitation by the very same officer who is also paid to prevent it. It will be nobody's worry why there are so many children in Indore and other cities in India, who make a living picking rags and climbing over piles of trash when they should be at school? None would try to contact the Madhya Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights having its office in Bhopal and dare speak to its Chairperson and former Judge of Madhya Pradesh High Court, about what could the Commission do in the present case, and further for the poor and destitute children of the state.
While this statement is being read, there would be several other ill-fated children like Firoz, who are either forced to do similar jobs for a living or for fear of torture; or trafficked along the length and breadth of the country or trying to curl down with empty stomachs since their parents are unable to find them a meal at least once a week. Yet, India repeatedly hear the hollow rhetoric that the country's children are its asset and the country's investment for the future.
The question is, would children like Firoz count in that account?
*** Those who wish to react to this statement kindly contact:
1. Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh Telephone: + 91 755 2443500 Fax + 91 755 2443501 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. District Superintendent of Police, Indore Telephone + 91 755 2525600 / 2711000
3. Chairperson Madhya Pradesh State Human Rights Commission Telephone + 91 755 2571935 / 2424311 Fax: 91 755 2551429
4. Chairperson Madhya Pradesh State commission for the Protection of Child Rights Telephone + 91 755 2559903 Fax: 0755-2559900 Email: email@example.com
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About Vikas Samvad: Vikas Samvad is a human rights/media group and AHRC's partner working in Madhya Pradesh. The office of Vikas Samvad is at Bhopal and their work could be accessed at www.mediaforrights.org
Picture courtesy: Daily News and Analysis www.dnaindia.com