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Holi: Throw balloons, go to jail for life!

In Mumbai, lob a water balloon at a local train only if you do not mind spending the rest of your Holis behind bars.

Mid-Day.com |

Updated:March 18, 2011, 12:49 PM IST
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Holi: Throw balloons, go to jail for life!
In Mumbai, lob a water balloon at a local train only if you do not mind spending the rest of your Holis behind bars.

Mumbai: Lob a water balloon at a local train only if you do not mind spending the rest of your Holis behind bars.

This is the message going out to mischief mongers from the railway police, which has been forced to use life imprisonment as a deterrent after noticing an increase in incidents of passengers suffering serious injuries after being hit by balloon missiles launched from the side of the tracks.

The Government Railway Police is planning to book offenders under the stringent Section 152 of the Indian Railway Act, 1989, even if their victims do not suffer serious injuries.

It has also decided to organise foot patrols, especially in areas which have slums close to the tracks, to nab miscreants and prosecute them.

"We have seen many serious incidents in the past in which people have lost their lives by falling onto the tracks, lost their eyes or suffered other serious injuries on being hit by a balloon.

Offenders will be prosecuted under Section 152 of the Indian Railway Act, which provides for life imprisonment," said DGP Raj Khilnani of the GRP.

Last year, only two such cases were registered by the GRP and only one person was caught. The same thing happened in 2009 as well, but Khilnani said they are pulling out all stops to avoid a rerun this year.

"We will be deploying extra GRP personnel on the tracks for patrolling, especially in areas where slums are located close to the tracks. We will catch the hooligans red handed and prosecute them.

We are trying to deploy Home Guard personnel as well and will use the public information system on stations to warn people to take precautions and avoid indulging in mischief of this kind.

The root cause of this problem is that slums are allowed to come up near the railway tracks. Most of these hooligans are teenagers," he said.

Commuters' take
Female commuters said they are wary of travelling in local trains around Holi as miscreants target the ladies' compartments.

Tripti Hegde, who travels between Nalasopara and Andheri, said, "I get very scared while travelling in the train during Holi.

The hooligans target the ladies' compartments and the balloons often have stones, chemicals and drain water in them.

I avoid standing near the door and advise fellow passengers to do the same but that is not possible during peak hours. The strict move initiated by the GRP should help."

Case Studies
In 2009, Sanjay Kathare was standing on the footboard while travelling between Thane and Dombivli when he was hit on the face by a water balloon containing stones. He suffered severe injuries and was taken to the JJ Hospital by fellow passengers.

His left eye was saved but his right eye suffered permanent damage. The Dombivli GRP caught two nine-year-old boys in this connection and they were remanded to the children's home in Bhiwandi.

Punit Kadam (22) also sustained an eye injury while travelling from Dadar to Kandivli in 2008. He was standing near the door and was hit by a water balloon near Matunga Road station.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested from the slums near the station and was sent to the juvenile remand home at Dongri.

Safety Tips
> Avoid standing near the door a few days before and after Holi.
> Keep the windows closed if possible
> Try and click a photograph of the miscreants to help the police nab offenders
> Inform the railway police on 98333 31111 if you spot people lobbing balloons at the train
> Help fellow passengers if they are hit

Section 152
The section states, 'If any person unlawfully throws or causes to fall or strike at, against, into or upon any rolling stock forming part of a train, any wood, stone or other matter or thing with intent, or with knowledge that he is likely to endanger the safety of any person being in or upon such rolling stock or in or upon any other rolling stock forming part of the same train, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years.'

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