Friday, April 4, 2008


Pakra (Ranchi), April 3: Braving Naxalism, they show green signal to trains passing by. Undaunted by rebels’ threats, they help passengers reach their destination.

Nope, security personnel are not the talking point here. Meet the railway’s cabin men deployed at stations on Hatia-Orga line of Ranchi railway division, who quiver little to wave green flags every time a train passes their cabin.

Away from popular habitation and stationed in remote areas, they work out of sheer determination, especially at nights, when they work without a companion at their side.

“Every single night I pass here on my job, I say I have scored another point,” said S.J. Kachchap, a cabin man stationed at Pakra, about 50km from the state capital, surrounded by forests. Pointing towards a hill he said it is the “movement ground of the rebels”.

Kachchap’s cabin is about a kilometre away from the Pakra station, where three other railway employees stay put always. As electricity is still a dream in this village, the railway has planned to set up solar panels to light up the station.

Just a few kilometres away is the next station Mahabuang. Here, the life of the cabin man is even tougher. The nearest village is about 2km away off from the station.

“My family lives in Ranchi and I afford to visit them once in two-three months. They always remain concerned about my life here,” said C.L. Bhagat, the assistant station master at Mahabuang station.

There are 15 remote stations, including Lodhma, Bakashpur, Govindpur, Pokla, Pakra, Mahabuang, Kanarowa and Parpatonia, in the Naxalite-prone Hatia-Orga line.

“It is the sheer commitment of these employees towards their job that keeps them going in the sensitive and remote areas,” said A.K. Dutta, the divisional railway manager of Ranchi.

Dutta ensures that senior railway officials of the division visit the employees engaged in the far-flung areas regularly and “boost” their morale.

Railway officials say that about 35 stations in the division are both remote and Naxalite sensitive. However, availability of electricity in some of the stations attracts people of the nearby villages to the station in the evening, which, according to officials is proving as a “safety valve” for the employees.

“Small and remote stations with electricity are developing into ‘nucleus of cultural activities’ in the villages. As evening draws, villagers gather at the stations and share folklore, folk music and the like,” said Dutta. This, he said, is proving positive for the railway employees engaged in far-flung and Naxalite-hit regions both in Hatia-Orga and Hatia-Muri sections.

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