When the body of Dalit youth E. Ilavarasan was found with a grievous head injury along a railway track, it was initially presumed by investigators that he might have committed suicide. However, the victim’s kin and some political parties suspect foul play and have demanded that a murder case be registered.
Though investigators had information that a woman and some students had seen Ilavarasan close to the track, they have not been able to reach them yet.
The police initially believed that Ilavarasan committed suicide, but they are probing all possible angles.
It appears that the lone eyewitness who can confirm whether Ilavarasan jumped before the train to commit suicide is the Kurla Express driver.
Train drivers and guards have a detailed protocol to follow when a person is run over. Whether the driver saw Ilavarasan being hit by the train, and, if so, whether he alerted the authorities concerned are questions being raised by human rights activists.
The Accident Manual of the South Western Railway clearly describes the duties of the crew on such occasions. Some of the responsibilities which have relevance to the instant case are as follows:
When a railway employee finds an injured person on or near the track, he should do his best to render first aid. He should also arrange to inform the police through the nearest Station Master or any other person in the vicinity.
When a person is run over or knocked down by a train is found by the staff of the same train or of a subsequent train, first aid shall be rendered by the guard or by a qualified doctor if available in the train.
If the condition of the victim is found to be critical, a dying declaration should be recorded by the Train Superintendent /Guard/TTE/Conductor or by the Railway Servant who happens to find the injured person.
However, when a body is found on or near the track, the main requirement would be to keep the evidence intact, especially fingerprints. The body should not be removed until the police arrive.
However, to clear the line for the movement of subsequent trains, the body may be removed from the line, with minimum impact on the evidence.
The body may thereafter be left in the charge of the local VAO or any responsible person in the vicinity. If no responsible person is readily available at the site where the body is found, it shall be removed to the nearest gate keeper in the direction of the movement of the train.
In all cases, a written memo containing the time, place, position of the body, blood stains, clothes etc., shall be made out by the guard or driver or by the person who finds the body.
In case the body is found by a railway staff not working in the train, he shall take immediate steps to advise any responsible person to enable further action.
In the case of Ilavarsan, the body was noticed by a patrol man who informed the Station Master of Dharmapuri.
Accident Manual of the South Western Railway clearly describes
their duties