Sunday, 11 January 2015

India: GRP portal helps kin of rail accident victims trace them and get closure

For three years, Bajirao Pawar and his wife searched high and low for their teenage son, Mahesh, who had left home saying he wouldn't return till he made it big. Two months ago, Bajirao, as a last resort, visited the GRP commissioner's office and went through their portal 'Shodh' that uploads pictures of unknown rail accident vicims. After scouring through pages and pages of pictures, Bajirao broke down. He had spotted Mahesh's picture on the website. Today, he believes that finally knowing what had happened to their boy gave the family some closure.

There is an average of 10 deaths reported on the railways every single day.

Shodh was developed by the GRP to help families of missing persons trace them. And yet, despite police's efforts, there are 1,100 rail accident casualties from 2014 that are yet to be identified.

"Shodh can be accessed from anywhere but not every family is net savvy. Our personnel help them surf the portal based on the description of their missing relatives. We have also prepared a database of photographs of unknown victims that the families can go through. This rules out the need to personally visit mortuaries, which can be a very disturbing experience for a family member," says GRP commissioner Ravinder Singhal. Police have to often double up as counsellors. "Bajirao couldn't accept that the picture on the portal was his son's. We asked Bajirao's relatives to come over and not leave him alone even for a minute after he left our office," said a GRP officer. Police records showed that Mahesh was killed at Khar in April 2012, eight months after he left home. Bajirao, a night watchman based in Chembur, was away at his hometown with the rest of his family when his son left.

For Pravin Waghmare, discovering the picture of his missing grandmother on Shodh, came as a shock as she had always been found safe in the past whenever she had wandered away from home. "My grandmother, Yashwanta, was in her late seventies and had a problem remembering things. Once every few months, she would step out for buying something or for a stroll and disappear. She was usually found in Chembur where we stay, or at Wadala where our aunt lives. When she went missing earlier this year, we knew the drill. Missing complaints were registered at Chembur and Wadala police stations. But there was no trace of her," said Waghmare.

The GRP website showed that Yashwanta had been killed near Diva station on March, 30, 2014, eight months before her family learnt of the mishap.

"An unclaimed body has to be disposed of within a week. At times, we keep it in the mortuary for a fortnight if there's a slight chance of tracing the family. In cases where bodies are disposed of as unclaimed, pieces of their clothes or belongings are stored for their families to identify," said an official.

Sunday 11 January 2015


Post a Comment