A father and daughter in northern Tripura, India, were hailed as heroes after they prevented a train crash. The train, which was carrying around 2,000 passengers, was headed for an area of the tracks that had been severely damaged by a landslide. It could have easily caused the train to crash, but the warning came in time, thanks to the dad-and-daughter duo.
Due to heavy rains, a portion of railway track at Dhancherra, between Mungiakami and Ambassa stations was damaged, making it extremely dangerous should a train speed through. Swapan Debbarma saw this when crossed the track with his daughter on June 15. The 45-year-old tribal man decided to stay beside the track instead of going about his business.
There was no track inspection in the area, so Swapan took on the job himself with his daughter, Somati. They waited a long time. Finally, Swapan heard the train whistle, and immediately, the duo leapt into action.
Waving their shirts, they were able to alert the driver, who, fortunately, was able to stop the train in time, preventing what could have been a disaster.
“If we had not spotted the signal and stopped the train, it could have met with a severe accident,” said the train’s driver, Sonu Kumar Mandal.
After the incident, word quickly spread about the good deed that Debbarma and his daughter had done. And when Sudip Roy Barman, Tripura’s health, science, and tech minister, learned of their heroics, he extended an invitation for them to visit his home.
Agartala: Minister Sudip Roy Barman called at his residence, S Debbarma&his daughter Somati,locals of Dhalai's Ambassa, who averted a train accident on June 15 by waving their shirts at it after they spotted a stretch of railway track affected due to a landslide. (21.06) #Tripura pic.twitter.com/jrTN8n8klA
— ANI (@ANI) June 22, 2018
“Had they not taken the risk in stopping the train, lives would’ve been lost,” Barman told ANI. “When I came to know of this, I called them at my residence and had breakfast with them.”
Swapan and his 9-year-old daughter were also invited to the state Assembly, where they received a standing ovation. A proposal to recommend Swapan for the President’s Medal for Bravery award in June was also unanimously passed in the state Assembly.
And it was not just at the national level that Swapan and his daughter became celebrities. In their small village, Dhancherra, locals and ministers visited them and gifts kept coming to their modest home.
Being the sole earner of his family, Swapan must support all eight members of his family including four children and two elderly grandparents with an income that hardly reaches the three digits in Indian rupee a day (100 rupees is about $1.43). The poor farmer never thought his fortune would turn, and when Swapan received the monetary gifts and awards, he didn’t even have a bank account to put the cash in.
Swapan saw a landslide, realised if a train came it may get derailed. He stood guard for 2 hours, waved and stopped train when it came, saved 100s of lives.
— @akashtv1soni (@Akashtv1Soni) June 20, 2018
“I have received more than Rs 70,000 (US$998) in cash, dresses, sweets, and citations. My family is being treated to wonderful dishes in the city, none of which we had ever tasted before. I also got cheques worth more than Rs 3 lakh (US$4, 277) from various institutions and individuals, but do not know how to cash them,” said Swapan, reported The Times of India.
However, Swapan didn’t have to worry about the lack of a bank account, as one was about to be opened for him.
On Saturday, Swapan and his wife, as well as three of his children, attended a public reception of a career counselling and coaching event organised by the Agartala-based Institution School of Science. During the evening, when the story of Swapan and his daughter was presented, many people who attended the function were moved to tears, according to Abhijeet Bhattacharjee, the organiser of the event, and a renowned educationist of the state.
“I am overwhelmed with the response of the common people of the state for responding to the appeal for Swapan Debbarma. We proposed the government change the name of Agartala Railway Station after his name to keep his contribution immemorial. We have taken the initiative to get all his important documents done and open a bank account soon,” said Bhattacharjee, reported United News of India.
In addition to naming a railway station after him, Bhattacharjee also proposed to include Swapan’s story in the social science text book, as an example selfless action and courage.
Swapan was also recruited as a Group-D employee for his heroic actions and poor financial situation.
“We shall recruit Swapan Debbarma as a Group D employee in the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports. His daughter accompanied him during his courageous feat to stop a speeding train from a certain disaster. Our government will bear all expenses for his daughter’s education,” said Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath, reported Indian Express.
Since it was a special case, the government also granted a leeway on his education qualifications.
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