Not all members of his organisation support what Ashok Pandey did. But the 45-year-old Central Railway (CR) motorman has earned the goodwill of two people whose lives he helped save. On December 31, Pandey was operating a fast local from Kalyan to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST).
“Immediately after crossing Diva station and before Parsik Tunnel, I saw a youth lying on the tracks and another person a few metres away. I decided to stop the train, and luckily the signal was red. At that instant, all I could think of was how to help those two people.”
With the aid of assistant motorman Sayed Sattar, Pandey put 19-year-old Virendra Ajay Naidu in the ladies coach and rushed towards the other victim, Dayashankar Jaiswal (35). Interestingly, according to the motormen, Jaiswal refused to come with them, saying that he didn’t want to get involved in police formalities. “I made him understand that the first priority was saving his life. Finally, he relented and we put him in a general compartment,” added Pandey.
Naidu, who is a resident of Ambernath, was heading towards Kanjurmarg for an interview. “I was standing near the door as I wanted to get down at Thane and board a slow local to Kanjurmarg. The steel rod was slippery and I lost my balance and fell off the train,” he said. Naidu says he was lying on the tracks for almost 15 minutes, waiting for someone to help him. “I was not fully conscious at the time. I had injured my head and I still have eight stitches to show for it. I told Pandey that I was grateful, but I don’t remember what exactly transpired,” he added. Naidu requested MiD DAY to thank Pandey for saving his life.
“I will try to meet him and express my gratitude personally, when I am able to move about,” he said. Jaiswal, who is a resident of Diva, was hit by a local train while trying to cross tracks. He fractured his right hand and has bruises on his body. Both victims were taken to Thane civil hospital after Pandey called up the control room. While Naidu has been discharged, Jaiswal is still receiving care.
However, opinions of railway officials are divided. A senior official said that stopping the local without getting authorisation from railway staff is not acceptable and the two motormen can be charged and even suspended. Another official said, “If a motorman finds anything unusual, he can stop a train. I am very sure that he must have received some communication or signal to halt before he actually did. A motorman’s eyes are always on the signal.”
CR spokesperson AK Singh, appreciated Pandey’s courage. “The motorman has done a commendable job and we will send details to the concerned department. He will be rewarded suitably.”