The capital city of Madhya Pradesh was hit by a catastrophic accident 35 years ago. A gas tragedy had occurred at the Union Carbide pesticide plant and released nearly 30 tonnes of highly toxic gas, methyl isocyanate. An accident turned the whole city into a gas chamber. Over 600,000 people were exposed to this toxic gas which left thousands dead, several disabled, others breathless, and rest in a harrowing state. Hardly people know that in this tragic accident, there was a courageous man who had dragged himself in danger and saved innumerable lives.
In this blog, let us look back to the day when a deputy station superintendent Ghulam Dastagir saved countless lives. It was on December 3, 1984, when Ghulam Dastagir (stationmaster) was at his office to complete the pending work. Due to some paperwork, he was in office till midnight. He stepped out of his office to check the arrival of train Gorakhpur Mumbai Express.
As soon as he came out, his eyes started to burn due to poisonous gas in the air. He did not know that the leakage of gas was from the Union Carbide pesticide factory. Beginning to choke, Ghulam Dastagir was unaware that twenty-three of his colleagues including station superintendent Harish Dhurve have died. As he was unable to comprehend what was happening, he decided to act immediately by alerting the senior staff at nearby stations, Vidisha and Itarsi, to suspend all train traffic to Bhopal railway station.
But Gorakhpur-Kanpur Express was standing on Bhopal station as its departure time was 20 minutes away. As soon as Dastagir saw the train on platform, he told its staff to depart the train instantly. Regardless of the rules and regulations, Dastagir flagged off the train successfully. Several lives were saved by the Stationmaster who would have died if they had been exposed to the hazardous gas. The railway staff later reported that Dastagir could barely stand and breathe as he spoke to them.
Dastagir’s contributions did not end here. The number of people were increasing at the station. Some were breathless, others were vomiting and rest were gasping. He remained on duty and helped each one of them. He had also sent SOS at all the railway offices asking for help. Consequently, four ambulances along with paramedical staff and railway doctors reached the station. In no time, station turned into an emergency room of a hospital. Still, Dastagir stayed at the station knowing the fact that his family was there in the doomed city.
Dastagir’s loyalty towards his job saved the lives of countless people. However, Bhopal tragedy didn’t leave him unharmed. One of his sons suffered from a lifelong skin infection while the other son died on the tragedy night. Ghulam Dastagir spent his last 19 years battling in hospital and was later declared as a martyr in 2003. As per the reports, he was suffering from a disease caused by the exposure of MIC (Methyl Isocyanate) gas.
Later, a memorial was built on platform no.1 to pay tribute to the people who lost their lives on the fateful night of December 3, 1984. Ghulam Dastagir is one such hero who is remembered every year as he saved the lives of numerous people.
Dastagir was truly a courageous man who deserves to be commemorated by his fellow citizens. That’s all for today! Keep reading the Trainman blog to know such inspirational stories and latest update on train and travel. For an easy-peasy experience, book your train tickets through Trainman app. Download Trainman App to check PNR Status of your ticket, Train Seat Availability, Train Inquiry and many such exciting features.