THIS refers to an unfortunate accident that my friend met involving Pakistan Railways, resulting in the amputation of her legs. We are in a state of distress after this tragic accident and want to bring this issue to the attention of the relevant authorities so that such accidents may not happen again. This has ruined a young girl’s life.

On Feb 26, the train departed from the Karachi Cantonment station and reached Attock the next day. When the train stopped at Attock, there was only a one-minute stopover, which earlier used to be a 15-minute affair. In that one minute, she had to help her ailing father get off the train before taking care of the luggage. All this she had to do alone and in one minute.

Sadly, as she was unloading the luggage, the train started to move slowly. Through the window she started to throw out her luggage and, as fate would have it, the moment she jumped out of the door was also the moment when the train sped up, throwing her off-balance. She fell down and her legs were crushed by four bogies. The train did stop eventually, but it was too late. Her leg had been left totally detached from her body. When the rescue team arrived, all it could do was to shift her to the hospital.

Since the accident, every day has been a turmoil, emotionally, physically and financially. She was first taken to the Civil Hospital in Attock, then to Benazir Hospital for 13 days where she lost too much blood to stay stable and had to be moved to the Combined Military Hospital where more surgeries are in line, resulting in further amputations as the infection is spreading fast.

Too much damage has already been done and things are still not clear about the extent of deformity she will have to put up with for the rest of her life. And all this happened only because the decision-makers in Pakistan Railways thought one minute was time enough to disembark a train.

This poor girl, lying in her hospital bed, simply wants to communicate to one and all that such accidents should never happen again … ever. The duration of train-stops at small stations, like Attock, is too short for disembarking a train. There are many passengers travelling with elderly, sick, children and luggage. Pakistan Railways must take notice of this accident and take the steps that it needs to take. This is a plea from a young innocent girl lying in a hospital bed staring in the dark.

Syra Salam

Ontario, Canada

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2021

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