Motormen who survived 7/11 train blasts recall horror, and city’s spirit of resilience

The incident taught them what Mumbai’s lifeline meant for the city. Resuming services within three hours after the blast, people were back to using local trains the next day for the regular commute.

Written by Neha Kulkarni | Mumbai | Published:July 12, 2017 3:27 am
Mumbai 7/11 train blasts, Mumbai Motormen, Mumbai Trains, Mumbai News, Indian Express News Motorman on girish chaurasia on duty on the memorial day of 7-11 train blasts in Mumbai.

ELEVEN YEARS after the train bombing in the city on July 11, driving the local train has never been the same for motormen. Memories of the incident, which saw blasts being triggered in seven local trains, continue to haunt them, they claim. Motormen — Sachin Singh (39) and Girish Chaurasia (49) — believe they were fortunate to be alive after their 5.57 pm Virar-bound local and 5.54 pm Borivali-bound train witnessed blasts near Matunga Road and Mahim railway stations, respectively.

While the first class coaches (fourth coach from the motorman’s cabin) in both the trains were jolted after the explosions, the shudder felt throughout the rake was massive, they recall. “Minutes before I took the train, I was chatting with Girish. We both took the trains with a difference of hardly few minutes. It all went smooth till we heard the huge sound of the blast. For some time, it was difficult to understand what happened. But after I stepped out of the local and looked behind, I understood the horror,” Sachin said.

Helping victims, providing inputs of the status of the damage caused to the control room in railways, guarding the train and sending emergency signals to the remaining motormen driving other trains were a few of the tasks they recall performing in succession after the blast. They reached home only the next morning after things came under control. “We were so preoccupied with the procedure and giving statements to the security officials that I had forgotten to inform my folks back at home about my safety. I had received more than hundred calls at my residence asking for my well-being,” Girish recalled.

“Humanity was seen at its greatest. People rushed from neighbouring areas around railway stations to rush the victims to hospitals or offer medical aid. In fact, diamonds worth Rs 5 crore were also returned to one of the commuters who had lost it in the confusion,” Sachin said. The motormen said that they both were back on duty the day after the incident.

While the incident still haunts them while driving the train or passing by the stations, they prefer to keep it to themselves. “The following years, life was tough for us. Being present for court hearings, recalling the accounts every time while assisting security officials formed some of our hardships. I did not travel in first-class compartment for a long time after the incident,” Sachin said.

The incident taught them what Mumbai’s lifeline meant for the city. Resuming services within three hours after the blast, people were back to using local trains the next day for the regular commute. “The sensitivity towards the woes of others has increased. While many die in front of us while trespassing or falling off the train, providing aid to them through any way remains our aim,” they said.

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