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     Volume 6 Issue 26 | July 6, 2007 |


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Special Report

A Hero's Tale

Kamran Reza Chowdhury

Assistant Sub-Inspector Alamgir Bhuiyan

A few weeks ago, the government congratulated an ASI (Assistant Sub-Inspector) named Alamgir Bhuiyan for an act of bravery that apparently had averted a terrible mishap. According to media reports, Bhuiyan, who was in-charge of security of the train, manually stopped the speeding Chittagong Mail train while the driver remained unconscious. Reports quoting police sources said that the driver and supervisor were allegedly running the train by taking drugs or alcohol.

The next day, officials from the government high ups congratulated Bhuiyan for his so called heroic role, thanks to misreporting in the media. Some government officials also talked about awarding Alamgir Bhuiyan with a National Award as recognition of his reported dutifulness.

The media reports prompted railway's general manager (east, Chittagong) to form a five-member probe committee, headed by Divisional Traffic Officer (DTO-Dhaka) Sarder Sahadat Ali, on June 17. The committee was assigned to detect whether there was any negligence of duties by the railway employees.

After examining relevant statements of the ASI, the railway officers and employees concluded that the guard Kobbad Ali stopped the train by using vacuum brake lever. The probe body concluded that the drivers and supervisor took biscuits and tea at Bhairab Bazar station and all of them gradually fell asleep after crossing the Narsingdi station.

Besides the railways' probe committee report, an investigation into the matter by this correspondent proves that it was not ASI Alamgir Bhuiyan, the train was stopped by the use of vacuum lever which is only controlled by the guard. In case of any emergency, the guard is the only person who has mechanical control to stop the train. Alamgir Bhuiyan's statements to the probe committee and his interview with this correspondent on June 22 contradict this fact.

The outside view of the coach 779 and connecting point of the hosepipe (red circle).

The much talked about mail train started for Dhaka from Chittagong station on the night of June 16. At dawn, the train was supposed to stop at Ghorashal Flag station after leaving Narsingdi station. But the train headed for Dhaka at high speed instead. Passengers who were planning to get down from the train started shouting fearing either mechanical failure or attack by dacoits. At one stage the train was stopped near Arikhola station, far away from Ghorashal Flag station.

The train could have collided head-on as another train was supposed to come from opposite direction using the same line.

The on-duty railway staff and the police went to the engine room and found the train driver (loco master), his assistant and supervisor in a semi-conscious state. Later, another driver took the train to Dhaka.

In his written statement submitted to the probe committee on June 19, Bhuiyan said he along with other constables were at the compartment next to the guard's coach, known as 'guard brake' when the train started from Narshingdi station. He said, “The train started from Narshingdi and did not stop at Ghorashal Flag station where it was supposed to. The passengers started screaming as the train headed for Dhaka in high speed. I pulled the emergency lever (known as chain) in the inside coach, but it did not work. Then I went to the connecting point of two coaches, pulled off the hosepipe and stopped the train at Arikhola station.”

The inside view of the coach (779), placed next to the guard's brake, from which no one can reach the connecting points of hosepipe.

According to his statement, he was staying at the last coach (number 779), which was placed next to guard brake. But according to the design of the coach 779 (second class), which is also the last coach of the train too, does not allow anyone to go to the connecting point of two coaches. There is no door or passage in either side (width) of the compartment. Again, no one can go to the connecting point of the two coaches passing through the doors or windows of the coach while the train is moving. In the inter-city compartments, people can roam from one compartment to another. In the second-class bogies, people cannot go to another compartment in a moving-train. Passengers will have to be confined to the compartmentthey are in.

Alamgir Bhuiyan, in an interview at his Ibrahimpur residence, said that he, along with other constables were staying at an inter-city compartment, followed by another inter-city coach, next to the guard brake. He said the train had 19 coaches and the two inter-city compartments were at serials 17 and 18. He said when the train was heading for Dhaka in high speed; he went to the connecting points of the two inter-city coaches and pulled off the hosepipe by kicking on the joint. He said there was no clip on the joint of two hosepipes.

His statement is not true. The train had only 15 coaches excluding the engine. Again, the serial of the two inter-city coaches were six and seven, according to the railway record.

As per the railway manual, before the start of a train journey, two wings of the railway maintain separate records on serial of the coaches along with their numbers. Again, the serial of the coaches are registered at every station where a train stops. Finally, the serial numbers of the coaches are registered at the last station.

According to the report prepared by the officials at Komolapur station, the serial number of the compartments, starting from the engine, was in the following order: 2061 (second class), 413 (second class), 882 (second class), 1813 (second class), 353 (railway mail coach), 9733 (inter-city, power car), 6022 (inter-city, AC/berth), 227 (first class), 192 (first class), 222 (first class), 3943 (luggage carrier), 3565 (first class), 4257 (vehicle carrier), 2893 (guard brake) and 779 (second class).

The railway officials confirmed that there was no change in the order of the serial of the coaches on its way.

“Where did he get 19 compartments? The train had 15 coaches. The inter-city compartments were at sixth and seventh positions,” commented Sarder Shahadat Ali, the probe committee head.

“Except the driver, the guard is the only person who can stop a train in case of an emergency. It is not possible to disconnect hosepipe at the joint by kicking and stop trains. The hose pipe is connected with an iron clip,” Abdul Wahab, chief operating superintendent (east), told this correspondent.

“I challenged Alamgir Bhuiyan to show me again how he had gone to the joint. But he did not respond. If he can do it, I will resign right away”, Nur Ahammad, divisional mechanical engineer (east), a member of the probe committee, told this correspondent. He said it was impossible to go to the joints of coaches on a moving train.

Ahammad said an inspector of the railway police recently inspected the coach 779 and said it was impossible to go to the joint from inside the compartment.

“I have told the secretary (communications) that the train was stopped by the guard, not by Alamgir Bhuiyan,” Railway's Director General Md Belayet Hossain told bdnews24.com.

The two inter-city coaches were in the middle not at the tail. Therefore, his claim of stopping the train is baseless. Actually, the train was stopped by the guard who is the real hero who saved people's lives. The police officer had basically taken undue credit that should have gone to the guard.

Photo: Firoz Ahmed, bdnews24.com
The writer is Senior Correspondent of bdnews24.com

 

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