#UnsungHeroes: Meet Swapan Debbarma, the man whose brave act saved the lives of 2000 train passengers

The poverty-stricken tribal family of six survived by selling forest resources like firewood and bamboo in the local market.

According to IANS, on June 15, Swapan Debbarma, a poor tribal, and his daughter Somati were walking along the rail line at Ambassa in northern Tripura (under Dhalai district) when they saw that huge landslides following heavy rains had affected around a kilometre of railway track.

Seeing a train coming in the distance, Debbarma immediately removed his and his daughter’s shirts and waved at the train while standing on the tracks, in order to attract the attention of the driver to stop the train.

“If we had not spotted the signal and stopped the train, it could have met with a severe accident,” Sonu Kumar Mandal, the driver of the train, had told the media. The train was the Dharmanagar-Agartala passenger train that had left Ambassa railway station.

According to The Telegraph, Swapan lives on a hillock overseeing the tracks at Dhancherra with his family of five and sells forest produce like firewood and bamboo shoots for his livelihood.

45-year-old Debbarma’s bravery has won him a lot of praise. According to IANS, members of the Tripura Assembly praised him and his teenage daughter with Health and Science and Technology Minister Sudip Roy Barman raised the issue in Zero hour and requested Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and the House to extend a befitting reward to the two.

Barman, who personally felicitated Debbarma, said the poverty-stricken tribal family of six survived by selling forest resources like firewood and bamboo in the local market.

The Tripura CM then told the House that Debbarma’s name would be recommended to the Central government and the Railways Ministry for help and a reward.

According to The Telegraph, Swapan and his daughter were invited to the Assembly on Thursday and given a standing ovation by the members. Minister for tribal welfare Mevar Kumar Jamatia announced Rs 50,000 for Swapan. Veteran MLA Ratan Chakraborty proposed the President’s award for Swapan. The Assembly later unanimously passed the proposal to recommend Swapan’s name for the President’s medal. Law minister Ratan Lal Nath said steps would be taken to recruit him in government service if proposals were placed before the government.

On social media, several known faces have come forward to share his story and demand a reward for his bravery.

(Curated and edited by Khristina Jacob)