The festival of Dussehra turned a nightmare for revellers in Amritsar who set out to watch the burning of the Ravana effigy.
Standing on the edge of a field by the railway tracks, over 59 people were mowed by a speeding train. The tragedy also left 72 people injured.
A baby would have been one among the 59 who left their families bereft if it wasn’t for 55-year-old Meena Devi who saved his life.
According to a report in The Times of India, Meena was among the enthusiasts who had gathered to watch the celebrations near the tracks on Friday, when the speeding train approached the revellers.
It all happened in a matter of seconds.
At one moment, the man was standing ahead of her with a baby in his hands, right in the middle of the tracks, enjoying the festivities.
The next moment the speeding train mowed him down. Just a second before it crushed him, the man had flung his baby into the air.
Meena Devi, who escaped being hit by the train by a whisker, jumped in and caught the infant as he hit the ground.
As a mass of mangled and dismembered bodies lay around her, she held the child close and took him home. She nursed and fed him before rushing him to the hospital.
Speaking to TOI, she said, “I will be happy to raise him if its parents are not found.”
He sustained an injury to his head. So the Civil Hospital conducted a CT scan to understand the nature of the damage.
Speaking to the Indian Express, Chief Judicial Magistrate and head of district legal services authority, Amritsar, said, “Since no one came to claim the baby in three days, it was being assumed that both his parents died but we continued to search for them.”
Identified as Vishal, his mother Radhika too was severely injured in the accident. She is recuperating at Amritsar’s Amandeep Hospital. His father Buddhi Ram, the man who flung the toddler in an attempt to save him, is being reported dead.
Vishal’s parents had travelled from Sangatpura in Uttar Pradesh to celebrate Dussehra in Amritsar, leaving their three daughters behind. They were visiting his maternal aunt, Preeti.
Preeti and her 3-year-old son Aarush survived but she lost her husband Dinesh and 9-year-old son Abhishek in the accident.
Meena Devi, who originally hails from Nepal, works as a cook during functions. The brave woman, who is a grandmother herself, was lauded by her neighbours for the act of unadulterated love.
“We are proud of her as she not only saved the baby but also ensured that he got the best possible care,” her neighbour Aarti Kapoor told TOI.
We salute Meena Devi for her quick-thinking and selfless act. We hope Vishal’s family is endowed with the strength to bear the losses.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)