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Help an accident victim!

The faster an accident victim is rushed to hospital, the greater his or her chances of survival. Do not worry about getting involved in legalities or about being harassed by the police, as feared by the army man in the story here.

Legally, you can not be harassed for being the Good Samaritan in a road accident. The supreme Court of India has made this very clear following a 1989 public interest case (Parmanand katara vs. The Union of India) There will be no legal impediment on your part, whether you are an ordinary citizen, doctor, lawyer or policeman who happens to be connected with, or who happens to notice such an accident. Indeed, in 2004, the central ministry concerned with road transport and highways reiterated this in a circular to police chiefs in all states.

Recently, Maharashtra went one step further when the state's home minister announced rewards of Rs.50,000 to 1.5 lakh for those who help accident victims, depending on the level of help provided.

If you find an accident victim, consider yourself, or loved one in the same situation. Would you need help? So never hesitate to offer assistance. Call an ambulance or have the victim carefully taken to hospital as fast as you can.

One story:

The Good Conductor

It was that fateful night of 21 May 1991. My wife, our then three year old daughter Krithika and I were in a bus from Bangalore to Nellore, Andhra Pradesh. At about 2am, half an hour away from the Andhra temple town of Tirupati, a group of unruly men blocked our bus from going further. It seemed like the middle of nowhere and it was pitch dark, except for the bus headlights.

"Get out of the bus!" the mob ordered.

The passengers began to alight, even as some of the men threw stones at the bus, shattering its windshield. One shard of glass hit me in my right ear and it started to bleed. My wife lost her temper. "Why do you have to be violent?" She yelled at the men. "Can't you see we're all getting out?"

Other frightened passengers asked for the reason for such behaviour. We were told that Rajiv Gandhi had just been assassinated in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, about 100 km away.

Anyhow, some members of the mob pity on seeing my plight and asked all of us to board the bus again, " Go to  Tirupati," they ordered the driver. At Tirupati, the bus depot was overcrowded with many more buses held up there.  And we soon learnt that all the town's hotel and lodges were full.

We were not just stranded, but being Tamilians we were also scared of reprisals, since Rajiv Gandhi had been murdered in Tamil Nadu. We simply stood wondering what to do when a middle aged bus conductor came to us and enquired about my bloodstained clothes.

"Come with me," he said, after we told him what had happened. Conductor Ashok Rao took us to his tiny house and asked us to stay. His family also helped me dress my wounds, served us food, and offered me their only cot while they slept on the floor. As it was summer vacation time, a few visiting relatives had also come to stay. Ashok's wife, their children and the others took very good care of us for the next two days, Only after things returned to normal did they let us leave. Back home, I wrote a thank you note to Raos.

Today, two decades on , we often recount the day and think of the bus conductor who went far beyond his call of duty. - M.S. Raju, Kumbakonam, TN