Video footage of a young cyclist who was run over by a bus sparked soul searching in India as local media declared that bystanders had failed to help him, choosing to film the scene instead.
The 23-year-old man, Anwar Ali, was hit by a bus while cycling in Koppal in the southern state of Karnataka on Wednesday and died in hospital three hours later, police said.
As he waited for help, footage of him writhing in the road was taken bystanders.
“Accident victim pleads for help, onlookers click photos instead,” said the headline of an article on the Times of India’s website. “Lying In Blood, Karnataka Teen Cried For Help. They Filmed Him Instead,” said another on the website of English-language news channel NDTV.
The footage also shows bystanders giving Mr. Ali water and a person on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance in front of a large crowd.
While K. Thiyagarajan, superintendent for Koppal police, said Mr. Ali waited nine minutes for an ambulance, rather than the nearly 30 minutes some local media reported, he said: “I only wish people would try to aid the injured instead of clicking pictures.”
Mr. Thiyagarajan said a case was registered and the bus driver detained and released on bail on charges of causing a fatal accident. It wasn’t possible to contact the driver for comment and wasn’t clear if he had legal representation.
Safety advocates say witnesses are sometimes reluctant to help victims because they are worried they could be accused of being involved in the accident, detained by police and asked to pay medical bills.
“People are afraid of getting into legal issues, or getting blame,” said Mridul Bhasin, managing trustee of road-safety organization Muskaan.
Last year the Supreme Court made law guidelines designed to protect Good Samaritans, but Ms. Bhasin said many medical professionals, police and the general public aren’t aware of them.
India’s roads are dangerous. A government report showed that 17 people die in an accident every hour, with the number of people dying in such incidents rising 4.6% to 146,133 in 2015. Meanwhile the World Health Organization gave the country a score of three out of 10 for enforcing speed limits.
“A lot more awareness needs to be brought into the public,” Mr. Thiyagarajan said. “The Supreme Court ruling is very clear but people are not aware of it.”
India isn’t the first country to consider why bystanders don’t offer help.
In China in 2011, a two-year-old girl was struck by a van in a hit-and-run incident. CCTV footage showed 18 people walking past her without offering help before she was run over again by another truck. She died later of brain injuries.
In that case, some blamed passersby’s failures to stop in that incident on China’s pursuit of economic growth, others said onlookers were afraid that they would face legal action.
In India, where the law should protect Good Samaritans, public awareness of the Supreme Court ruling needs to be increased, campaigners say.
“We need to publicize this law,” said Ms. Bhasin, who lost her daughter in a road accident. “This ruling empowers the Good Samaritan.”
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