Indian Railways enlists horned Hindu god of death to keep trespassers away
India’s Western Railway, which serves Mumbai and several other large cities, enlisted the help of the Hindu god of death to patrol tracks and teach commuters not to risk their lives by jumping on tracks to save time while crossing to another platform.
The railway came up with a creative idea for a new safety awareness campaign and dressed up a Railway Protection Force (RPF) officer as Yamraj, or Yamaraja (Lord Yama), a Hindu god of death and justice. He is usually depicted in a helmet with buffalo horns. Armed with a traditional blunt mace (gada), he began patrolling the tracks and confronting trespassers.
“Those who will cross the tracks, I will take them with me,” ‘Yamraj’ could be heard saying in one of the videos published on social media.
Western Railways is one of the busiest railway systems in the country. A total of 721 people died while walking on Western Railway tracks and the adjacent Central Railway tracks between January and May this year.
The god of death has helped with awareness campaigns in the past. In 2015, traffic policemen in the city of Ranchi in the northwestern Jharkhand State dressed up as the deity to promote road safety. Last year, traffic police in Bangalore employed Yamraj to teach motorcyclists about the importance of wearing helmets.