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With new arms, Monika embraces life

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She fell into a signal pit losing both arms as a train ran over them

Motor vehicles were on strike and the Ghatkopar train station in surburban Mumbai was teeming with commuters. Having just missed three consecutive trains, Monika More was determined to board the next one. However, in attempting to do so, she fell into a signal pit losing both her arms as the train ran over them.

After a traumatic six months in hospital, Monika finally came home on Friday evening in possession of her new arms — a pair of most advanced prosthetic limbs that will now help her eat, write and grasp objects. “I don’t want to think about the past. I am focused on my new life,” said Monika (16). Confident with her new limbs and hopping from one media meeting to another, the class 12 commerce student is eager to resume her normal life and plans to rejoin college from Monday. “I want a career in accounts,” says Monika, as her parents Ashok and Kavita look on.

Monika received a month’s training with her new limbs. However, at 800 grams each, they are still quite heavy for her slight frame. “With practice, I should be able to move them better. I will be able to rotate my hands a full 90 degrees in a few weeks, doctors say,” she said.

Termed the lifeline of the city, the local trains ferry 7.5 million commuters daily — roughly 30 per cent of the daily national rail traffic. In the past decade, RTI information reveals, 37,383 persons were killed in local train accidents. That is 10 deaths daily. Another 38,718 were injured during the same period, at an average of 11 per day.

However, compensation from the Railways is usually hard to come. It was only after much public outcry and media coverage, that Monika received an ex-gratia sum of Rs. 5 lakh from then Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and Rs. 2 lakh from the Maharashtra government. Donations and support from local politicians and civic authorities also poured in as the case caught publicity. The Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation on Wednesday agreed to pay for Monika’s functional limbs, which cost around Rs. 23 lakh.

But not everyone is so fortunate. In most cases, the victims struggle to even get the basic compensation due to them and most complaints stay pending with the railway tribunal for three to four years at least, says RTI activist Saumya Bahadur.

She found that of the 456 people who lost their lives while travelling from Bhaynder to Borivli stations between 2007 and 2013, none of the kin of the victims was compensated. “The Railways usually shift the blame on the victim and say he or she was killed while trespassing or committed suicide. The kin are harassed so much that they give up any hopes of receiving compensation,” said Ms. Bahadur.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 4:14:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/with-new-arms-monika-embraces-life/article6229305.ece

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