Farmer saves speeding Jan Shatabdi from derailment

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By SARAT SARMA
  • Published 10.11.08
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Bhudhar Saikia in his red T-shirt. Picture by Sarat Sarma

Thekeraguri (Nagaon), Nov. 10: A 60-year-old farmer ran towards a speeding Jan Shatabdi Express waving a “flag” made by tying a red T-shirt to a bamboo pole and saved the superfast train from an inevitable derailment this morning.

It was around 7.30am when Bhudhar Saikia noticed the “fault” in the rail tracks while returning from his farm at Thekeraguri, 35km from Nagaon town.

Having watched the Guwahati-Jorhat Jan-Shatabdi Express hurtle past every day, he knew that the train would cross the area in minutes.

Rooted to the spot for a few minutes, Saikia then collected his wits and raced to his field hut 100 metres away. Hurriedly, he tied a red T-shirt to a bamboo pole and ran back to the tracks.

As the train emerged on the horizon, Saikia began a running towards it, fervently waving his “flag”.

“Thank God, the driver realised that something was wrong and stopped the train,” Saikia said later.

The train was just a few hundred metres from Saikia when it screeched to a halt.

The Guwahati-Jorhat Jan Shatabdi Express is popular among businessmen, executives and sales representatives. Overwhelmed by the farmer’s courage and presence of mind, a few passengers immediately collected Rs 2,500 and gave it to Saikia as a token of their gratitude.

“Some (passengers) even shook my hand. The sum is not important, I am touched by their gesture,” said the farmer, who lives with his wife and four sons.

When railway engineers reached the site, they found that a part of the tracks had come unhinged. “The fault occurred because of a compression of the tracks, a common phenomenon in winter. As the tracks compress, the gap between the rails increases. It this case, the rails got unhinged as the tracks had compressed too far. Our personnel from Chaparmukh rectified the fault immediately,” a railway spokesperson said.

“The tracks may have come loose after a track inspection team carried out its drill before the Jan Shatabdi was to cross the stretch,” another official said.