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Home > News > Report

11/7: Railways provide jobs to families, but not everyone is happy

Binoy Valsan in Mumbai | July 09, 2007 16:11 IST

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Close on the heels of the 11/7 Mumbai train blasts in 2006, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav had announced that the dependants of the deceased would be given Grade D jobs in the railways at the earliest. In all, seven bombs went off in Mumbai's local trains in the evening of July 11, 2006, in less than 30 minutes, killing 187 people and wounding hundreds of others.

However, it seems that a number of affected families have not fully benefited from this action. Many of the affected kin, especially women struggling to cope with the loss of their loved ones, have been deputed as platform porters and cleaning staff in the railways, and many have turned down the offer.

Grade D jobs include porter, gateman, gangman, safaiwala, workshop employees and hospital attendants; the educational requirement for this is 8th standard pass from a recognised board of education.

"This was a humanitarian step initiated by the railways. We wanted to extend our help and support to these people," said Bhagwat Dahisarkar, senior public relations officer, Western Railway.

The Western Railway has so far received 135 applications from dependants of the blasts victims. As many as 35 people have refused to take up the posts that were offered to them and 16 have not submitted their applications as yet.

The list of next of kin includes graduates and post-graduates who were busy planning their careers when the bread-winners of their family became a statistic in the terrible acts of terror.

Some of them have shed notions about their educational qualifications and have accepted these posts, while others have refused the offer and cling onto the hope of securing a decent job to support their families.

Kavita G Dave, a 22-year-old resident of Dahisar, north-west Mumbai, is among those who have refused the railway offer. Her father Govindram Gulabchand Dave was among the casualties in the blast at Jogeshwari, north-west Mumbai.

Kavita is expecting her final year MCom results, scheduled to be announced next week. She is also simultaneously trying to get a job with a private firm in order to support her mother, younger sister and brother, both students.

"I had applied for the railways job, but opted out when I got to know that I have been deputed as a platform porter at Vasai," she said.

Her father worked in an embroidery shop at Santacruz, north-west Mumbai, and supported his family along with his elder son Hitesh, who works as an accountant in a private firm

"How can they expect a young girl like Kavita to take up a porter's job, which is physically very demanding? It will be an injustice to my late husband if I send her for this job," said Indira Dave, Kavita's mother.

Kavita and Hitesh, who used to accompany their mother to get the necessary formalities completed, say they were taken aback by the behaviour of some railway officials at the Mumbai Central station.

"They told me I would have to do lots of things like cleaning, serving tea to the officials and run small errands. Basically, it was like whatever they say and that made me a bit sceptical about taking it up," Kavita added.

According to her, some officials even taunted her, saying they were less educated than her.

Finally, her brother and mother decided this was not the job for her and turned down the offer extended by Western Railway.

"If she works in a private firm she will be able to support her family in a much better manner. Plus, all the hard work which she put in her education will go waste," said Hitesh Dave.

Incidentally, Kavita was expecting her first year MCom results on July 12, 2006, a day after her father's tragic demise.

"We unnecessarily wasted a lot of money in running around to get the formalities completed. I cannot even dream of putting my daughter in such a miserable state. I am sure no mother can," Indira Dave added.

However, Anita (name changed on request), mother of three daughters, was not in a position to let the railway offer slip away. The blast at Matunga, north-central Mumbai, claimed her husband, a middle-level executive. This 34 year old is now employed with Western Railway as a platform porter and stays with her parents in Virar, a satellite town newr Mumbai.

"It is very scary to think about the future as I have to make both ends meet with the salary I receive. My daughters are growing up and I have to ensure that they receive better education and other facilities. There would be no need to go through this hardship if my husband was alive," she said.

However, she added that most of the people at the station outside Mumbai city, where she works, are helpful and understanding. She is also made to double up as the office peon and make announcements from the control tower once in a while.

"I have never been asked to do any heavy work like shunting, pulling trays or carrying parcels," she added.

Anita underwent a mandatory two-week training programme during which she was made familiar with the 'nuances' of the profession.

She gets a holiday on Sunday, but has to do night-shifts. This becomes a problem as her aged parents have to take care of her daughters aged two, six and nine years.

"She has been assured that after two years she will have to take an exam and get qualified for a better post in the railways," her father said. "Till then, there is no go."