“It’s very difficult to get reserved seats in a UP-bound train,” the patriarch of the family explained.
The UP-Mumbai trains are phenomenally crowded, but even when doctors advised the family to stay back a couple of days under observation, they were reluctant. The idea of good health dwarfed in front of the prospect of having to stand in snaking queues to book seats.
On Tuesday morning, Kandivli-based Mukhteshwar Gaud and his nine-month pregnant wife Shanti Devi, with four other family members, reached Lokmanya Tilak Terminus to catch their train to Gorakhpur. But not long after the Kashi Express left from Mumbai, S10 bogie witnessed a flurry of scream, alarm and anxious activity.
Before the train could pull up at Kasara station, the woman in the family, which was occupying seats 25 to 30, went into labour.
Said a railway staff who was aboard the train, “When the train reached Asangaon around 8 am, Shanti Devi started getting labour pains. When she started screaming, we and some other passengers helped the woman. Before reaching Kasara, she delivered a baby girl in the train.”
The staff swaddled mother and baby in the linen available in trains. “With the help of other female passengers in the coach, the delivery could be done in the coach,” the staff said.
Meanwhile, the ticket checking and other staff contacted the railway control room for aid.
By the time the baby was out and crying and the passengers who had to witness the scene breathed out in relief, the train had chugged on along. So railway officials arranged for a medical team at the train’s next scheduled halt at Igatpuri.
After being administered basic care, officials and doctors advised Shanti Devi to stay back under observation. But the family decided to keep moving on the roughly 1,600-km journey of under a day. They could not possibly have frittered away the confirmed seats on a UP train, they said.
“The doctors found the condition of mother and child stable but advised them to break the journey and get admitted for two days. However, the family did not listen. They were concerned about their seats in the train because they would not be able to get reservation again,” said a railway staffer who was in the train at the time of delivery.
Gaud, the 33-year-old father of the newborn, said, “We didn’t want to get into trouble as we would have not got reserved tickets again. We booked the tickets three months ago and somehow managed to get them confirmed.”
Officials said the family didn’t agree to get down even after being informed of the potential complications they might have had to face later in the journey.
Before being let go, the family members were asked to submit in writing that they were going of their accord, despite the railways’ counsel.
A K Singh, public relations officer, CR, said, “The railways provided them the best treatment and advised them to rest, but they decided to continue their journey.”