Chennai

Footboard travel: students risk life for fun

Tamil Nadu, Chennai, 15/11/2021 : For City Desk : Students seen travelling on the footboard and on the windows of a MTC bus at Perambur Barracks Road in Chennai on Monday risking themselves and other road users. Photo : Jothi Ramalingam .B / The Hindu

Tamil Nadu, Chennai, 15/11/2021 : For City Desk : Students seen travelling on the footboard and on the windows of a MTC bus at Perambur Barracks Road in Chennai on Monday risking themselves and other road users. Photo : Jothi Ramalingam .B / The Hindu

M. Kumar, 20, a first-year student of MA History in Presidency College, lost his life to rivalry with students of Pachaiyappa’s College in a dispute allegedly over ‘route thala’ (the bus route leader). All efforts of his father Manivannan, a petty shop owner at Guruvarajape near Arakkonam, to ensure a good future for his son went in vain.

Mr. Manivannan said, “The death of my son is a lesson for other students travelling on trains and buses to city colleges. I struggled a lot to place my son in a good college. He studied hard to become a sub-inspector of police. Now everything is lost.”

The accident was considered a fall-out of the ‘route thala’ culture, identified as the main cause for clashes among college students, who travel on the footboard and top of buses and trains. This culture has spread among school students too, traffic policemen point out. Despite awareness campaigns and stringent action, students travelling on the footboard of buses and trains continue in the city and its suburbs.

In the last week of November, school students were seen performing stunts on a moving train at the Kavaraipettai station. In a video taken by a passenger, a girl in school uniform was seen boarding a running train and a boy following suit. Then she was seen holding the compartment door, putting one leg out and dragging it on the platform. The act was then repeated by the boy.

Schoolchildren follow suit

On December 2, school students travelled hanging from window bars and atop an MTC bus (T-110) from Tiruvallur to Meyyur. At least a dozen boys aged below 15 were involved in this revelry, which was captured on a mobile phone and posted on social media.

On December 28, a group of Presidency College students sat in front of an EMU train after a Railway Protection Force officer detained their collegemate for pulling the train to a stop. While the students were celebrating a final-year student’s birthday on the train between Velachery and Arakkonam by cutting a cake, a few of them pulled the train to a stop.

On December 29, A. Nirmal Kumar, 18, of Theagaraya College in Tiruvottiyur, was stabbed by some students of Dr. Ambedkar Law College following a fight over who was to ‘lord’ over bus routes.

Apart from these widely reported incidents, school boys have often been found travelling on footboards of MTC buses in several parts of the city. School and college students continue to indulge in footboard travelling and hanging from train windows in the Velachery-Beach and Gummidipoondi and Arakkonam sections. There may be a lull owing to the lockdown for a couple of weeks.

The menace will haunt the commuters again once schools and colleges are reopened.

Naina Masilamani, president of the Arakkonam Rail Passengers’ Association, says, “As soon as students come to the railway station platform, they join their friends and indulge in stunts creating nuisance to other passengers... Mostly they are travelling on footboards. Some are hanging out from the window bars. There are not adequate members of the Railway Protection Force or the Government Railway Police to check these violations.”

Andrew Sesuraj, convener of Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch, said, “Inspired by random social media posts and due to peer pressure, these children indulge in dangerous acts to attract the attention of others. They must be taught that these acts are dangerous and can cost them their life.”


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Printable version | May 17, 2022 4:45:59 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/footboard-travel-students-risk-life-for-fun/article38326589.ece