While the world was waking up from the Christmas festivities, death greeted two people in a tragic accident on Yamuna Express Highway. The accident claimed 2 lives, while two others were injured.
Ukrainian citizens Bohdana Kobalova and Maria Ihnatenko were returning from Kanpur in a car, along with their event manager Ankit and Vaibhav Sharma. On the Yamuna Express Highway near Agra, Sharma lost control of the car and collided into a divider. The accident resulted in the death of Sharma and Kobalova, while other two were injured.
However, the peculiar aspect of this accident was the reaction of bystanders. Even though nearby villagers had gathered around the spot, no one dared to pull out the victims from the car. While Sharma had died on the spot, Kobalova was still alive. Two TV reporters, Shiv Chauhan and Ajeder Chauhan, reached the spot and pulled them out. They later told that an expressway patrol passed by the accident spot. Despite requests from the reporters, the patrol squad refused from taking the victims, claiming it was not a part of their job. The ambulance later arrived, but Kobalova had succumbed to her wounds.
In India, such instances are not uncommon. The mere fact that we have to call a person doing something as basic as helping a wounded person as a “good Samaritan” speaks volumes about our ignorance, and how normalized it has become. As per the 2016 data, more than 1.5 lakh people had died due to road accidents in India. While most of them died due to the accident itself, a significant portion of deaths occurred due to lack of immediate medical attention. The “golden hour”, the first crucial hour after an accident, is something most people perhaps neither know nor care about.
A lot of attempts have been made in making the cars safer, while some steps have been taken by the government to ensure highways are safe to travel too. Yet, nobody seems to understand another huge problem here: the reluctance of people to help the accident victims.
The primary reason behind this reluctance is fear. Most people don’t want to get involved in such grizzly matters. Despite numerous government policies, people still have a deep-rooted fear that they would get harassed by the police if the help the victims. Even though the law clearly states that the “good Samaritan” cannot be questioned or held up by the police under any circumstances, the irrational fear refuses to abate.
Another more depressing reason is perhaps apathy. People are too busy in their own lives that they cannot force themselves to help a wounded person. They would rather avoid any bloodstains on their new car or new clothes. It is rather shameful that the government had to announce a reward of Rs. 2000 for good Samaritans, for doing something as basic as being a good human being.
In a country that sees an average of about 400 road accidents on a daily basis, it is very necessary to make people aware. The public has to understand how crucial their help is to those dangling between life and death in the middle of the road. Basic human empathy is not such a high price if it could save some lives.