27 January, 2021

Morbidity Junction

Its killer precision makes the Calcutta metro a lure for suicides

Swapan Nayak
Morbidity Junction
Until recently, Calcutta's underground railway provided the swiftest passage from here to there, anywhere in the city. With time, the Metro Railway acquired an added dimension not envisaged by its authorities: some locals now perceive it as the quickest way from here to the hereafter. A slew of recent suicides (and attempts) has affected running schedules and the authorities are yet to devise an adequate response.

Between 1988 (when the first suicide occurred) and this year, 79 persons have tried to kill themselves by throwing themselves on the live high-volt third track that runs the length of the 16-km-long tunnel. This works out to an average of six attempts a year. The body count so far: 33 and still rising. Authorities prosecute survivors but that is not enough to prevent Calcutta's pride from becoming people's favourite death row.

What adds to the concern is that the virus is catching. The last two months saw six attempts. And the deadly traffic is growing by leaps and bounds—last fiscal saw nine, and in 2001-2002 it touched 20. Apart from the negative image...


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