January 16, 2022 6:02:12 am
AFTER THE intervention of Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and the use of loudspeakers used for namaz at a mosque in Assam, a survivor of the Bikaner-Guwahati Express train accident was reunited with his family on Saturday.
Safikul Ali (18), who hails from Dhula Darrang district in Assam, was among those injured in the train accident at Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal on Thursday, which claimed nine lives. Having broken his right arm, Safikul was undergoing treatment at Jalpaiguri Superspecialty Hospital and could not get in touch with his family members as he had lost his mobile phone in the accident.
When Vaishnaw visited the injured persons on Friday, Ali told the minister about his situation. “Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw, Hon’ble Minister of Railways, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology while visiting the injured passengers at Super Specialty Hospital, Jalpaiguri on 14th January, 2022 met Safikul Ali, an injured passenger who hails from Dhula (Assam) and got to know that he is not able to communicate with his family as he doesn’t have a mobile phone. The Hon’ble MR took help from his other ministry and sent a postman to his native village,” the Northeast Frontier Railway tweeted on Friday. “After failure to locate any family member by the messenger, an announcement was made through the mosque loudspeaker that is usually used for namaz. Through this announcement, his family members were informed and communicated with railway authorities. His brother Moidul Ali is now on his way,” it added.
Nilanjan Deb, Public Relations Officer of Northeast Frontier Railway, told The Indian Express: “The Railway Minister after learning about the passenger’s condition, coordinated with other Ministries he is in-charge of and began a search to find the family members. The district authorities of Darrang where Dhula is located were informed and a local post office was informed. A village postman was tasked to find Ali’s family. Later, loudspeakers of a mosque which is used for namaz was used to air the news. This helped the family get the news about Ali.”
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Vaishnaw is Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology.
When The Sunday Express contacted the village postman over phone, Anwar Farooqi (42) of Dhula Post Office said, “Higher authorities asked me to find the family of a person named Safikul Ali but could not give me more details on him. I used my local contacts to search for his family. I took my motorcycle and travelled across the area. Local mosque and others were also informed. Later, I got the phone number of one of his brothers and gave them the news.”
After getting the news, two of Ali’s brothers came to Jalpaiguri to take him back to Assam. “We were worried after we could not contact him on phone. We called up his colleagues in Malegaon to learn that he has left for Assam. Then we got to know that there has been a train accident in West Bengal. My elder brother then left for Jalpaiguri thinking that he could have been in that train. Then we got confirmed news about the accident from the Dhula mosque. Then we visited the post office, where we got more details,” said Moidul Ali (27), elder brother of Safikul. Moidul and his elder brother, Mohammad Ajimuddin Ahmed, reached the hospital to check on their injured brother.
Safikul has been working as a labourer at a tile factory in Malegoan district in Maharashtra for the past eight months. After changing trains, he boarded the Bikaner-Guwahati Express from Katihar district in Bihar. “I was in coach number S5. After leaving the New Domohani Station, there was a severe jerk and the train coaches derailed. Another coach rammed into ours. My hand got stuck and I could not free myself. The police rescued me after three hours and my right hand was severely injured,” narrated Safiqul who has elderly parents at home. After treatment at a hospital, Safiqul was discharged on Saturday afternoon.
He draws a monthly salary of Rs 11,000 at the tile factory with free meals and a place to stay. However, he has decided not to return to Maharashtra for work as he is scared to undertake another train journey. “It is by God’s grace that I survived. I may not survive another. Also, now I will not have the same strength in my right hand as earlier. I have decided to leave the job in Maharashtra and will look for work in my home state. Maybe I will work in the fields like my two brothers,” said Safikul who was walking barefoot as he could not wear shoes due to injuries on his feet.
Safikul received Rs 1 lakh as compensation. “I am thankful to the Railway Minister [Vaishnaw] for helping me find my family. It is because of him and the local mosque that I am with my brothers now,” said the 18-year-old before getting into a car that will take him home.
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