The CCTV footage from platform five of the Egmore railway station in Chennai would have become a memory of terrible tragedy on Sunday, if not for the fast thinking of a constable with the Railway Protection Force. It was close to 1pm on Sunday afternoon and RPF constable Suman was patrolling the platform where an express train was just leaving. A railway staffer with a green flag in hand is the only other person visible in the frame for the first minute. But within seconds, a man in a white shirt is seen hurtling towards the moving train, attempting to jump on it, only to slip.
The unidentified man, moves with the locomotive managing to hold to a handle but is seen falling into the gap between the train and the tracks. But an alert Suman is already running towards him, pulling him out and even dangerously stumbling for a second himself. The passenger is pulled out safely and he has only suffered minor injuries in his leg. The train meanwhile which was travelling from Rameshwaram to Peshawar, continued its journey.
Describing the incident, RPF inspector V Mohan says, "The man was running into the general compartment after the train started and that is why he fell. Even our constable's life was in danger in this situation because he could have been pulled along with the train."
The inspector points out that this is a regular affair for the RPF. Everyday, two constable are told to patrol platforms where trains are expected. They are given instructions to keep their cap and other identifying factors on their person at all times. In addition to this, they are told to be alert and observe the train and passengers till it leaves the station completely.
"We have conducted several awareness programmes and even gone to court over passenger safety. We have told them not to rush into moving trains, not to use their cellphones when boarding and to be careful in general. But it goes unheard. For every passenger we manage to save, there are several others who cannot be helped," says the inspector.
This entire episode took place in less than a minute and was recorded by the CCTV in the platform. After he was saved from the jaws of death, the passenger was reportedly in panic and left the station without sharing his name or address.