Thursday, November 19, 2015

CHENNAI: As he gradually increased the speed of the express train that had just left Ongole station, loco pilot Velmurugan felt a shudder running through him when he saw a young woman jumping in front of his train, dragging a reluctant child with her. It was around 7 pm, and the woman wore a yellow sari which perhaps made it a bit easier to spot them at dusk.

Amit Bandre

During his nearly two decades of experience in driving locomotives, Velmurugan has had similar experiences where the train was too fast or there was too little time to react. But not this time. “In the train’s headlight, I could see that the child was refusing to lie down on the tracks. Usually it is difficult to apply the brakes when the train is on high speed. But in this case, as I was only picking up speed, I gave my all to apply the brakes. It worked, and the train stopped. Praying that the mother and child should be fine, I quickly got down from the train to check on them. The wheels had missed them just by an inch,” recalled C Velmurugan, who was driving the Asansol- Chennai Central Express.

When he spoke to the young woman, she assured him that she was alright and would go home with her daughter. Unable to believe her completely after the incident, Velmurugan called for help from Ongole Station so as to hand them over.

Loco Pilot Velmurugan

“But none was available then, and I couldn’t delay the train either. So I left the mother and daughter under the care of the passengers on the train and brought her up to Chennai Central. I was very relieved when I saw the child happily playing when I checked on them; I could see the joy on her face,” he told Express.

After reaching the Central railway station, Velmurugan handed over both the mother and child to the Child Helpline counter. A week has gone by since the incident, and the 28-year-old woman and her daughter, all of nine years, are now in an NGO in Porur that takes care of aged persons and destitute.

The woman from Kanigiri in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh told ‘Express’ that she decided to take the extreme step fed up due to the frequent quarrels with her drunkard husband. “I left my eldest daughter with my mother and the youngest with my husband, and took the second daughter thinking she shouldn’t be a burden for them,” she said. Filled with regret, the woman now says she is ready to face any challenge. “I realised the mistake I committed. I will never attempt that ever again. I will do some work and send my daughters to school, I will live for my children,” she added with resolve in her voice. Velmurugan, meanwhile, is a happy man. “My heart literally melted to see the little one, who was born to live her life to the fullest,” said the proud father of a young child, as he was getting ready to continue his journey to the next station.


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