Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kalidas and Khalid: What is the Cost of Life?

Kalidas and Khalid:
What is the Cost of Life?
By Zubair Ahmed

During the Independence Day Celebrations, two faces stood out in the crowd, in contrast, at the main function at Netaji Stadium as well as ‘At Home’ function at Raj Niwas. The widow and child of Late C Kalidas, the killed forester and K Khalid, a severely burnt employee of Electricity Dept. Both the victims were awarded the LG’s commendation certificate.

 A look into the eyes of the widow and child of C Kalidas would bring tears into your eyes. She stood there staring into the blankness. The dry and pale look, aghast and lost amidst celebrations, there was nothing for them to be happy or proud about. She had lost her husband, who was in his prime. The child could never comprehend the happenings around her.

K Khalid, who had sustained severe burn injuries while working on power transmission line, had his hands wrapped in a cloth and the marring accident has literally left his body, scarred for life.

Isn’t it a quirk of fate that both of them were in fact victims of someone’s negligence? Orders for enquiry might have been issued in both cases, but there are many vital questions that remain oblivious.

Had the young forester been properly briefed about the cost, he will have to pay, while facing an elephant that was beyond control? Had he known the fate, would he have taken the move to confront the elephant so naively? Or, was he just following an order from someone, for whom any result was inconsequential?

There had been enough uproar over the death of the forester as well as the elephant. In fact, both the forester and elephant were victims of some callous mind.

The killing of the elephant invited so much flak in the media as well as social media that the loss of the forester conveniently took a backseat. It was felt that this will be also forgiven and forgotten as time passes.

Who killed the elephant? Was it the rifle or the person pulling the trigger or someone with authority who ordered to kill it?

Who killed Kalidas? Was it the musth elephant or someone who hastily pushed the naïve forester into the clutches of the elephant?

Like the elephant was ruthlessly killed, Kalidas too became a victim of someone of same mindset, who knew quite well that there won’t be any damaging repercussion.

An order for enquiry has been issued. And, isn’t it quite intriguing that the PCCF (Wildlife) has been entrusted the job? Doesn’t transparency demand that an independent enquiry be ordered?

If someone justifies killing of the elephant, justice demands that they should also take the responsibility for the death of the forester.

K Khalid, a mazdoor of Eectricity Dept sustained severe burn injuries when a reckless co-worker charged the transformer, he was working on. He had to battle against all odds to survive the physical and mental trauma.

What was the role of the Junior Engineer or Asst Engineer? Aren’t they responsible or accountable for the accident? Has the Department taken any action?

Undeniably, the Department is an orphaned entity without any accountability towards service or its employees. There are no protocols or safety measures followed. Cases of fatality on duty in Electricity Department have become a routine fare.

There have been talks, talks and more talks about actions to be taken. No one has heard about any tangible outcome of enquiries ordered by the authorities. It’s time they walk the talk and ensure that accidents due to recklessness or decisions taken devoid of serious thought are not spared. And, we can’t keep learning lessons endlessly without putting into practice what we have learnt. Fixing responsibility and prompt action against the culprits will only serve as deterrent.

It’s heartening that this year both the victims were awarded with the Commendation Certificate, along with other genuine awardees. Or else, it had become a mockery with anyone having an access to the cook or sentry of Raj Niwas to manage a commendation.

A touch of sympathy might help heal the wound. But, nothing can bring back what they have lost. At least, a responsive Administration should deliver justice and it needs to be seen doing it.

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