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Published On: Fri, Sep 29th, 2017

Mumbai stampede: 22 Killed, City cops, Railway police argue over jurisdiction

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elphinstone-station-mumbai-stampede_650x400_81506666768MUMBAI: Twenty-two people including a child were killed and over 30 seriously wounded in a rush-hour stampede in Mumbai that broke out when thousands took a narrow railway bridge connecting two stations after heavy rain. Phone videos taken by witnesses show a crowd on the British-era bridge and people climbing over the railing and hanging onto it precariously. Moments later, bodies are piled up on the stairs, pressing against the railing.
Shortly after the stampede this morning, after the dead and injured had been taken to KEM Hospital, police officials came to the scene. When it was time to register the accident cases, the issue of jurisdiction came in. A senior Railway Protection Force (RPF) official, who was present, said, “We are witnessing the issue since the accident happened.
GRP are saying that the incident took place in the jurisdiction of city police, and the city police say that the accident occurred in the railway premises, on a railway bridge, so [the cases] should be registered with GRP.” He said it seemed like each was trying to shift responsibility for the the investigation on to the other.
Angry commuters and residents said the bridge is too old and narrow and not strong enough to take the busy sector. “It was a disaster waiting to happen,” remarked a local resident, saying that the bridge has been overcrowded for years and there have been multiple demands for more railway bridges for the area. Many on social media targeted the bullet train project to link Mumbai with Ahmedabad launched earlier this month. Tweets urged the government to fund basic rail upgrades instead.

In the immediate aftermath of the stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station’s north foot overbridge (FOB), commuters witnessed the unedifying spectacle of the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Mumbai Police arguing over whose jurisdiction the tragedy happened in. GRP personnel said that while the FOB was from the railway station, it was built on BMC land and so it was the responsibility of the city police.
The GRP would normally file an Accidental Death Report (ADR) for any fatalities on railway property. In Mumbai, it would have happened at their headquarters at Mumbai Central station. But on Friday, GRP officers had told their personnel not to file the ADR till there was a decision about the jurisdiction. It was only after the intervention of senior officers from both forces, and discussions between them, that a case was registered by Dadar police station.
Jai Jeet Singh, Additional Director General, GRP, said, “The place of the incident comes under the city police. They are taking the necessary legal actions.” The Mumbai Police are responsible for preventing and detecting crime within city limits.
The GRP is a police organisation under the State government in all states, and responsible for the prevention and detection of crime on railway property, including in trains, and it liaises with local police forces where railway lines and stations are located. The RPF is a security force under the Ministry of Railways; its job is the protection of railway land and other property.

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