I saw relief on faces when train chugged…

Recalls motorman who steered the first WR local in the wee hours of July 12

FIRST MAN IN: Motorman Praful Makwana, who steered the first Churchgate-Andheri local a day after the serial blasts last year

On July 12, 2006, the day after terrorists successfully wreaked havoc on Mumbai’s Western Railway, it was left to Praful Makwana (40) to break the eerie calm on the tracks. Commencing his journey at 4.30 am, Makwana steered the first Churchgate-Andheri local, thus bringing relief to the thousands stranded.

While Makwana expected this journey to be no different, he was rather amazed at what was in store for him. “Commencing my journey from Marine Lines, I was overwhelmed by the number of people stranded at each station.

I saw relief on people’s faces when the train chugged in,” he said. He even halted the train beyond the stipulated time on every station to accommodate more passengers.

“I also offered assistance to all those who came up to my window to resolve their queries,” he added. When the train halted at Andheri, there was an announcement that the train would be chugging off to Borivli. This move certainly evoked cheers from the hassled crowd, he recounted.

Says a little prayer

When asked if he feared to be the first to tread on the tracks where almost 200 people had been blown to bits only hours back, he replied, “I recited a little prayer and went about my job.”

Ever since, Makwana carries prayer books and photos of deities in his bag. In fact, even while driving the train yesterday, Makwana placed a picture of lord Ram, Sita and Laxman in front of him.

Alert man

A father to two kids, Makwana today is an alert man. Recently, he did something he had never done in his 11-year career. “At Lower Parel, a man came charging towards me from the vendor’s luggage to inform me about an unidentified bag lying inside,” he said.

Makwana immediately summoned the security and got it verified. This caused a 10-minute delay. “But I was firm on getting it checked,” he said.

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