On Wednesday, a railway watchman med Chandradhar Bora, whose duty it was to close the level crossing gate on the Sorigaon–Barbheta Road of Jorhat for oncoming trains, lay in a drunken stupor in his cubicle at about 10 p.m. when a train was approaching. A vegetable seller by the me of Pradeep Thakuria saw the approaching train and the open level crossing. He promptly stopped all traffic and pedestrians and shut the level crossing gate, thereby warding off an accident that would have surely taken several lives. In fact, even the engine driver of the train was greatly perturbed by what he saw and did his utmost to reduce speed. But since this has everything to do with the weight of the train, there was little he could have done to ward off the inevitable collisions at the open level crossing and the human tragedy that would have followed. What happens after such praiseworthy acts of bravery in our country is that while the shamefully negligent individual gets punished, we have very few instances of the hero being rewarded. Pradeep Thakuria did something way beyond his call of duty to save lives. In fact, had anyone outside the railway organization tried to shut a level crossing gate at any other time without the threat of an accident, he might have been handed over to the police. Now that Pradeep Thakuria has done something truly heroic and saved many lives, the NF Railways should hold a special public function at Jorhat to honour and reward him. We salute a man of courage and great presence of mind.
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