Paltry Cash Reward of Rs 1,500 for WB Boy Who Averted Train Disaster Sparks Row

Mursalim Ali waved his T-shirt at the loco pilot, signaling him to stop the train due to damaged tracks ahead.

2 min read

Mursalim Ali, a 12-year-old boy from West Bengal's Malda district, received a paltry sum of Rs 1,500 from the Indian Railways for saving the lives of hundreds of passengers on a Tripura-bound train.

The incident: When the Kanchanjunga Express was approaching Malda's Bhaluka Road Station on the afternoon of 21 September, Ali noticed that soil and pebbles had been washed away from under the tracks. Thinking on his feet, the young boy took off his red T-shirt and started waving it to alert the loco pilot to halt the train, which the latter was able to do after pulling the emergency brakes.

Following the incident, the damaged portion of the tracks was repaired by the railway staff and the train departed for Tripura.


Railways' back-and-forth: Initially, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Northeast Frontier Railway denied the boy's act, and claimed that the damage was noticed by the railway staff alone. However, he later acknowledged the boy's efforts and hailed his "approach to society being a teenager".

On Monday, 25 September, the Northeast Frontier Railway released a statement praising the boy's bravery. The statement read:

"At one location where soil and the pebbles were washed away by the rain, the boy named Mursalin Seikh, son of a migrant labour of the nearby village was also present in the yard with the railway staff. On noticing a rain damage portion under the tracks, the boy acted sensibly and alerted the loco pilot of an approaching passenger train by waving his red shirt along with other on-duty railway staff."
Indian Railways

TMC, Train Passengers Slam Indian Railways

However, several locals from the boy's village and even passengers on the train contradicted the Indian Railways' claim.

“The Railways is being economical with the truth. There were no railway workers there. That child, with a red handkerchief tied around his waist, halted the train all by himself, and there were seven local people with him. If they hadn’t been there, it could have been a massive disaster,” Raghav Sen, one of the passengers, told The Wire.

Meanwhile, BJP MP from Malda North Khagen Murmu visited the boy's home on Monday along with a senior railway official and presented him with a cash reward of Rs 1,500.

The meagre sum was slammed by the Trinamool Congress (TMC). Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury, a local TMC leader, also said that he was planning to take legal against against the Indian Railways.

“This is an utterly heartless government! I am contemplating taking legal action against the railways regarding this issue," he said.

In response, Murmu said that the TMC was attempting to "politicise" the issue. "A railway official has already promptly approved the award. We will explore further actions later. They (TMC) have no genuine concerns; they are merely engaging in opposition for the sake of it," he said.

Several people also took to X to slam the paltry sum of money. "The Rs 1,500 that Mursalim Ali received from Railways for saving hundreds of passengers on a train wouldn’t cover the round-trip fare for a chair car seat on the Vande Bharat Express from Malda to Kolkata," one such user said.

(With inputs from The Wire.)

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