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Delhi hit-and-run: Will money drive bystanders to help accident victims ?

Rakesh Jha New Delhi 12 August 2016, 7:18
Rakesh Jha

In light of the death of a security guard in Delhi's Subhash nagar area, AAP government today said it will soon announce a scheme under which people will be rewarded for taking victims to hospital.

The Subhash Nagar incident makes for a case of  public apathy that takes insensitivity to a new bottom - a man is hit by a vehicle, he lies on the road for over one and half hours, his cell phone gets stolen, people walk through ogling at him like an alien who has landed from a UFO but nobody takes him to hospital and he dies.

But the question is whether announcing  incentives will change the bystander behaviour. Is it the money that keeps them from helping victims? We have to be downright honest here that our mindset is no less culpable.

Even if one out of 10 comes out to help, money would be the last thing on his mind, it is the humanity (which is missing these days) of a person that prompts him to help somebody. As Indians, insensitivity binds us all - be it a measly lowlife wandering on the road or a well-earning professional who deems it unfit to come out of his air-conditioned vehicle, predicting it may spell trouble.

Many of us fear undue harassment by police or getting muddled in a legal soup. Even a Supreme Court directive that such people who help accidet victims cannot be harassed or questioned has fallen on deaf years because as a citizen, we choose to ignore something that takes us out of the comfort zones of our lives.

According to police, Matibul was walking back to his home near Tihar village when he was hit by the van around 3 AM yesterday. The entire incident as well as the injured Matibul lying on the road and people passing him by was recorded on CCTV camera.

The recording also showed that a rickshaw puller approached him, only to take away his phone. The victim was a native of West Bengal and lived in a rented accommodation near Tihar village.

Police said that they received information about a body lying on the road in Subhash Nagar at 7 AM, following which a team was rushed to the spot which took it for autopsy.

The Subhash Nagar case adds to a series of similar incidents that highlight growing public apathy.

Take the 2012 Nirbhaya case for instance. The rape victim and her friend were thrown out of bus and lied semi-naked for over 90 minutes on road as passers by slowed down their vehciles and moved away after looking at them. They were finally taken to hospital by the police.

"After raping Jyoti, the attackers threw us out. We were lying on the road without any clothes. I tried to get up and wave at the moving traffic. Some cars stopped, saw us and left without helping. Then the highway patrol van spotted us and called the police and we were taken to the hospital. People kept staring at me in the hospital. I was lying in a pool of blood on the floor without any clothes. I was pleading with them to call my father as I remember his phone number," her friend recounted his 90-minute ordeal on that fateful night of 16 December.