THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: March 14, 7.30 pm - Jhansi, the gatekeeper with the Indian Railways, was on her usual self after closing the railway gate between Aralvaymoli and North Panakudi stations. The Nagercoil - Bengaluru Express was about to pass. Little did she know then that, what was about to happen to her. As the time passes, out of the blue, five miscreants arrived at the gate and started yelling at her to open it.
She was all alone with hardly any person around her. The place was also devoid of houses. Every moment was fraught with danger. If something goes wrong, the train would not pass safely. And she could not let that happen.
Risking her life, Jhansi took every blow inflicted on her by her attackers willingly and let the train pass safely. Balu Chandran, a Kanyakumari native who tried to save her, was also brutally assaulted. Their efforts bore fruit when Railways honoured them. The bravery certificate was handed over to them in April 2015 by the Governor at Thiruvananthapuram.
28-year-old Jhansi, a Nagercoil native, still reminisces about that night with a chill down her spine. I was alone. The train would come at any minute. I wanted to avoid a tussle, she says.
When the miscreants tried to open the gate by pulling the lever lock Jhansi told them that she would do it herself once the train passes. This irked them. “They started hurling abusive words. I ran to inform the Police Control Room and locked myself in my room. But, in no time they came after me and had beaten me black and blue. I was hit on my head, chest, abdomen and back,” she recollects.
There were hardly any public except one or two. Then, a small boy came and asked them to stop assaulting her. “They left me writhing in pain and chased that boy. By that time, two or three persons who turned up threw the miscreants’ bike key away. After coming back, thinking that I might have done that, they assaulted me again. I was phoning my Station Master then. They pulled my hair, dragged me and beat my head against the lever. It was then that Baluchandran arrived at the scene and tried his best to stop them from harming me,” she says with a gratitude in her eyes.
Even he too fell prey to the brutal attack of the miscreants. “They beat him so hard that he was lying in a pool of blood. They even rolled the bike on top of him. Then they ran and hid somewhere in the dark. Police arrived by then and took us to the hospital,” Jhansi says. By then, the train had passed safely.
Sadly, the assault affected Balu’s life, heavily. “I get acute head and back aches, frequently. Because of it, I could not go to work for months,” he says.
He used to work in a company that makes fishing net .”Earlier,I used to draw a salary of Rs 12,000. Now, every thing is topsy- turvy. I am literally struggling hard to earn my bread and butter. I have a wife and two kids to look after. My wife could not go to work as our first born could not walk and the second child is too small to leave her alone,” he said with helplessness reflecting in his voice.
Jhansi is now a gate keeper at Kaavalkinar. The shift is from 6 am to 2 pm and 2 pm to 10 am. “If I get a second shift, my husband would accompany me”. Inquiring, if she is still afraid to go to work, she replies “Yes, But I have to work.”