Gap between platform and station in Parsi town Udvada costs man both legs

Updated: Sep 20, 2017, 14:05 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar and Gaurav Sarkar | Udvada

Parsi museum caretaker Aspi Sepoy's legs were dragged along the gutter between train and platform, which is being raised, as he tried to board the moving train at Udvada railway station

The platform at Udvada station; (inset) Aspi Sepoy
The platform at Udvada station; (inset) Aspi Sepoy

For nearly a decade, Aspi Sepoy, 46, served as the caretaker of the Parsi museum at Udvada, a sacred pilgrimage spot for the community. Now, the caretaker is in dire need of care himself, having lost both his legs after he fell under a train at Udvada station. And, he's not the only victim of the deadly station.

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Work has been to raise the platform since September 1
Work has been to raise the platform since September 1

Over the years, several people have been injured because of the gap between the platform and trains at Udvada station. This is a big problem particularly for senior citizens, who commonly make pilgrimages to the fire temple in this city.

"Our oldest and most important fire temple, Iranshah, is located at Udvada. But there are many senior Parsis who face great difficulty in getting in or off the train here. In fact, many carry stools with them for this purpose, and some have also been injured in the past," said Dinshaw K Tamboly, chairman of the World Zoroastrian Organisation Trust (WZOT).

Also read: Mumbai commuter dragged along with train, saved by quick-thinking cop

"This holiest Parsi town and community deserves better. Only a handful of trains halt here and there are no buses either," said actor Khurshedcheher J Lawyer.

The community newsletter, Parsi Times, published a feature highlighting the issue in 2015, and several complaints were made to the railway authorities. The Western Railway finally began raising the platform height on September 1, and the work is still ongoing.

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"It was heartening to learn that the railways have finally sanctioned the long standing request from the Parsi community to raise the height of the platform of Udvada station to be in sync with the coaches. The community will be delighted to be informed about this development," said Tamboly.

Too late for Sepoy
It is too late for Aspi Sepoy, whose legs had to be amputated yesterday because of the accident he suffered last Saturday. Sepoy, a resident of Navsari, has been the caretaker of the Zoroastrian Information Centre in Udvada ever since it was established in 2008.

He would travel to and from work by train. It was while he was boarding his return train that Sepoy fell. "He said he was holding on to both the handles on the door outside when he slipped. He was dragged in this manner until his feet went limp. He remained conscious and was able to phone his friend, who alerted us," recalled Tamboly.

A railway official said that a last minute change in the platform number might have led to confusion among commuters, resulting in the accident.

After receiving preliminary treatment at Valsad civil hospital on Thursday, Sepoy was brought to Bombay Parsi General Hospital on Saturday, and underwent an above-the-knee amputation on Tuesday morning.

Needs prosthetics
"His legs were crushed at the level of the knee joint; I have done an above knee amputation for it and closed the stump up. Now, once the wound heals, we will have to give him artificial prosthetic legs," said orthopaedic surgeon Dr Jamshed Bunshaw.

Sepoy will now need prosthetic limbs, each costing Rs 5 lakh. Other treatment costs will come up to Rs 3-5 lakh, bringing the total medical expenses to Rs 15 lakh - far too much for a caretaker earning a monthly salary of Rs 10,000.

Keeping this in mind, the WZOT has urged community members to donate towards Sepoy's treatment (See 'How to donate').

How to donate
The WZOT stated that those interested in donating towards Aspi Sepoy's treatment can forward cheques in the name of 'The WZO Trust' or Aspi S Sepoy. Donors from India should mention their PAN details in the covering letter. Cheques may be mailed to the office of The WZO Trust at C-1, Hermes House, 3rd floor, Mama Parmanany Marg, Opera House, Mumbai 400 004.

WR says
WR chief spokesperson Ravinder Bhaker said, "The platform at Udvada is 600 mm high, as per the required specifications of passenger data. However, WR has received suggestions to increase the height. On September 1, we started the work to increase the height to 830 mm, with a stiff deadline of October 30."

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