“When the sound of the train approaches, I start shivering... it feels like someone is getting crushed under the wheels.”
A year since a DMU train mowed down 62 people in Amritsar — during Dussehra celebrations in the city in one of the worst tragedies in India — families of the victims continue to suffer from mental trauma.
Relatives of those who were listed as casualties by the government have received Rs 7 lakh compensation. But there’s hardly any awareness or redress for the mental trauma caused by the tragedy.
When The Quint met a few families in the colony which live by the railway tracks near Joda Phatak in Amritsar, they narrated how even the sound of a passing train traumatises them.
“I Feel I Can Still Hear the Screams of Those Who Died on the Tracks”
Sonia, who lost her father in the tragedy, says, “ I feel I can still hear the screams of thousands who died on the tracks. It feels like everyone is still suffering and screaming in pain. There's still the same panic.”
Last Dussehra, she had fallen sick. Before leaving to attend the Dussehra celebrations,, her father had promised to get her coconut water on his way back.
"“My father told me that he was going to the Dussehra celebrations and asked me what I wanted to eat. I’d said I didn’t want anything. He asked me if I wanted jalebi or any other sweets, I said I didn’t want anything. He himself said he would get me coconut water.”"“Out of Anxiety, I Asked My Younger Son to Leave Studies Since His College Was Too Far”
“I kept searching for my elder son all night. In the morning, we had to identify him from his clothes and watch. He was decapitated,” recalls Vijay Kumar as he sits on a single-sized bed in his drawing room with his 18-year-old son’s sketching books and a photo frame mentioning the date he died.
He looks at his younger son, almost of the same age, and says, “I asked him to drop out from college because it was too far. I used to be really tense. You never know what might happen.”
Vijay adds, “I have to cross the tracks daily. Whenever I pass from there, there's a Balaji temple there. I ensure that I pray — that I am going to the market, please keep my family safe while I am out.”
“God Did Not Help My Son. What Will I Pray For Anymore?”
While Vijay held on tighter to his faith after the accident, for Rita, who lost her 19-year-old son, it completely shattered.
“God did not help my son. I don't feel like praying to God anymore. My son is not there anymore. What will I pray to God for?”
Her husband, Mukesh, sitting besides her holds up the photo frame and says, “When the accident happened, there was a lot of panic. Someone said 500 people were mowed down, some said 200 people were mowed down. When we got to know, I went to check at the tracks. I saw my son's body lying there.”
He says, “When I see the tracks now, my head starts spinning. When the sound of the train approaches, I start shivering... it feels like someone is getting mowed down under the wheels.”
“My 3-Year-Old Son Asks Me Not to Take That Route”
Preeti, a young widow, has moved into a shabby, one-room apartment barely a kilometre away from the railway tracks after her in-laws ousted her and her three-and-a-half year old son after the accident. She lost her husband in the tragedy.
She says, “ If I go near the tracks, my 3-year-old son tells me to not go there. He says that his father and brother were killed there. Monetary compensation can be given, it would be good if we get a job. But this tension will never end.”
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