Good Samaritans do exist in Delhi, despite heartless image
An Indian friend of mine arrived late for dinner the other night, with a curious tale.
Seeing a woman, apparently drunk and ill, almost falling out of a cycle rickshaw, she had asked her own auto driver to stop and tried to help.
A crowd of men had quickly gathered around, and my friend was worried what would happen to the woman in a city sometimes known as India’s rape capital. A sex worker, the woman had been seriously abused by her last client.
For four hours, my friend, who comes from Shillong, sat with the woman, trying to get her help or just somewhere to go. A women’s helpline did not pick up the phone, nor did two hostels she called.
Eventually, another middle-aged lady also stopped to help, and with managed to disperse the crowd with a few well-aimed Hindi words.
After sobering her up, they tried to put the woman on a bus to her home district, a remote Delhi suburb. But the occupants of the bus, led by the women, did not want her onboard and raised such a ruckus she had to dismount.
Eventually, a traffic policeman helped them put the woman on another bus.
At the end of last month, the Times of India reported that a man bled to death at a busy junction in Delhi, after his motorbike was hit by a speeding van and he lay for an hour without any help.
A neurosurgeon apparently stopped, by was rebuked by other motorists for abandoning his car in the road for “a dead man”, the paper reported. His comments are worth reprinting.
“When I tried to stop a few cars coming from the opposite side to take the victim to hospital, they just refused saying they did not want their seat covers ruined. When I got back to him, the man had died. He could have lived if help reached him in time,” Dr Anil Sharma was quoted as saying.
It was also reported that two other motorcyclists had called the police half an hour before, but no one had turned up.
A similar thing happened to another friend of mine last year. Knocked off his bike by another reckless driver at around 11 p.m., he reckons lay by the roadside unconscious for two hours before being woken by some kids who were laughing at him.
The Times of India called Delhi “a callous, heartless city”. I think that is too strong.
Capital cities around the world all have their ugly sides, but I like Delhi. And I wanted to applaud three Good Samaritans, the doctor, and especially the two women, who did stop to help their fellow citizens in trouble.
When there is so little official help on offer, and the rule of law is applied so intermittently, it sometimes takes real bravery to stop and help.