The city of dreams for entire India. This city is a world in its own and never fails to mesmerize non-locals with its sea-shore, super rich residential areas, Bollywood and its relentless race with ticking clock and famous ‘Mumbai Spirit’.
Unfortunately, the story of this ever glittering city is not all gold. This city has seen bomb blasts in 1993, followed by communal riots. Rise and fall of communist movements, eye-opening floods in 2005, terrorist attacks in 2006 and 2008.
And now in 2017 two more incidents have been added in the list of these unpleasant Mumbai tragedies.
On 29 September 2017, local railway, often hailed as lifeline of Mumbai, helplessly witnessed dance of death in the stampede at Elphinstone road bridge, with 23 dead and 39 injured.
Exactly 3 months later, on 29 December 2017, Kamala mills, rising hub for pubs and restaurants in youth, saw 14 young people, in their twenties died out of suffocation in the fire at pubs named, 1Above and Mojo’s. Just cant imagine what would have happened if this infamous Kamala Mills Fire had occurred on 31st December night.
The reasons I chose these two events is because they represent two different problems this city has long endured.
Let’s talk about the recent event first;
Mumbai Tragedies :- Kamala Mills Fire
Apparently, the fire at 1Above and Mojo’s was caught due to Hookahs which were allowed without permission of corporation to do so. These were two names which we have come across due to the unfortunate incident but as per reports, there are around 50 pubs/restaurants in the vicinity and nearby area.
The possibility of unacceptable ignorance and toward fire-safety and guidelines of these pubs, raises question that if the safety is compromised in other restaurants too? As per reports, notices were summoned to these restaurants and they were ignored.
Allegedly, a casualty was hanging on the rope of life and death and ambulance wasn’t available as it was stuck in traffic. This is clearly lack of governance and lack of social responsibility of us as citizen as well.
Now, let’s move to the previous unfortunate incident. It was more heart-wrecking for me as I commute with local train every day and one of the victims of the stampede could have been owner of this tiny blog.
Mumbai Tragedies :- Stampede at Elphinstone Road
I said it was heart-wrecking, no exaggeration is intended. It was not just an incidence where 23 people died in stampede. It was the moment when the worst nightmare a ‘Mumbaikar’ has silently suffered and lived with, took shape of the reality.
The series of events were so bizarre that one just might not believe that it happened. Firstly, in the rush hours of morning, there was untimely rain, four trains simultaneously on different platforms , people hadn’t carried umbrella with themselves so they decided to stay on the station and bridge, crowd went on growing up, but Mumbaikar is so used to crowd and rush that none of them had any slightest idea of what is going to happen next.
It is believed that a pedestrian slipped and there was some noise, which triggered rumor of bridge collapsing and chaos broke out.
The whole incidence went on for 9 minutes. In which 23 people died a horrible death and 39 were left with moderate or serious injuries. Most of the casualties were due to chest compression and haemorrhage.
9 Minutes is a really long time for such chaos to go on and according to a witness, law and enforcement was not immediately into action as police force couldn’t surpass crowd and help. (Ref:- Wiki)
Please notice what that rumor was.. “..the Bridge has fallen..” the crowd went haywire and the chaos led to stampede. Majority of the people couldn’t use their common sense that the bridge hasn’t fallen as they are standing on it. Let’s just take a scenario where some part of the bridge had started to fall. A responsible citizen should have not let her/his emotions to take out their head and should have continued getting off the bridge gradually as usual. This could sound too much to expect from the crowd but trust me it isn’t. London has repeatedly displayed its strength to the world by obeying discipline during WW2 and terrorist attacks in past 70 years and we should totally steal that discipline for us.
My Verdict :-
- Both events were outcomes of continued mismanagement and ignorance. Pubs allegedly ignored notices from authority and size of Elphinstone bridge is just not enough to deal with rush at peak hours.
- I am sure law enforcement officials must have acted as per their due diligence but that was a little late than expected and we as citizen should take some blame of it too. Too often when we drive ahead of fire brigade or ambulance we tend to forget that someone’s life is hanging by a thread and we, adhering to out “Chalta hai” attitude, causing a serious obstacle to emergency services
- This could sound a little harsh but yes, the crowd at both events acted irresponsibly and certainly not like the behaviour which is expected on such chaotic situations. The very first lesson of fire safety is to try to reach open space at all cost, taking shelter at washroom, a congested closed room was clear invitation to the death.
Stampede can never occur unless large mob panics and makes bottleneck at some place.
Indian pilgrims have often suffered worse stampedes, underlining fact that ignoring legal notices about social gatherings and panicking when one should never be, can have life and death consequences.
- One due salute to 2 brave brothers, Dairya and Vishwa Kenia who saved 12 people in Kamala mills fire and lost their own life while doing so. They made the ultimate sacrifice and their valor should be long remembered.
The Last Word :-
Ever since I was a child I have listened to a false pride politicians and media have sold to the ‘stupid common man’ of Mumbai. A cute name given to it is ‘Mumbai Spirit’ . This word has been used like a dope to keep us feeling proud for ourselves and making us forget that collapsing infrastructure and law and order of this city is taking casualties in tragedies in Mumbai
May it be floods, or train blasts or terrorist attacks.. Mumbaikars are hailed for getting back to work on the next day in the name of Mumbai Spirit. How easily we forget that the Show must go on attitude of this city is more of a tragic inevitability of everyone fighting their own battle every day.
Yes, Mumbai can take a punch without getting knocked down.
But she has taken too many.
Her nose is broken and bleeding.
She is barely standing and shaking.
In this relentless survival battle, Mumbai is certainly NOT WINNING ..