On Tuesday 28th June, an alert policeman in Kolkata prevented a woman from committing suicide by jumping off the iconic Howrah Bridge.
It was 11 pm and assistant sub-inspector S S Pal had just started his shift at the North Port police station. The commuter traffic on Howrah bridge had abated somewhat because it was late in the evening.
A woman stepped up to the edge of a flyover, hesitated a little bit, and then took off her slippers.
Pal guessed that the woman was about to jump. He ran out of his kiosk, shouting loudly at the woman to hold on. He then proceeded to talk to her for about 10 minutes, trying to convince her to not give up on her life. He realised she had left home in a hurry so he tried to remind her that she had family and friends. Finally, the woman relented and climbed down. Pal then took her to the police station where she was further counselled.
The 35-year-old woman was eventually picked up from the police station by her brother. Sources told Times of India, that the woman was possibly depressed in her marriage.
The North Port police station is also known as the Jal Thana due to its proximity to the Hooghly river and the number of drowning incidents it has to handle every day. It is virtually impossible for the police to stop suicide attempts from the top of the bridge, given that 5 lakh people walk across it everyday.
“Those of us posted at this police station can now read people’s minds. We often find people breaking away from the ranks, staring at the river, contemplating for a few seconds and almost always taking their shoes off before jumping. We now know it,” one of Pal’s colleagues told TOI.