'I was not scared. I have seen trains every day of my life. I only wanted to stop the train.'
Siddesh Manjunath, who averted a major rail mishap, speaks to A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com
On March 15, the Harihara-Chitradurga passenger train was passing through Avaregere village in Davangere district, Karnataka. The locomotive driver saw a young boy running towards the train on the track waving a red cloth vigorously. The driver applied the brakes and stopped the train.
The boy, Siddesh Manjunath, 10, may have saved the lives of about 850 passengers on that train.
Siddesh told Rediff.com that after breakfast he decided to go to his father's tea shop. To get there he had to cross the railway track.
When he neared the track, he had to wait as there was a train passing by. "I regularly cross the track here and I am familiar with the sound that the train makes on the tracks. I noticed that the train was louder than it normally was."
"After it passed I examined the tracks and saw a big gap on one track. I ran to my father's shop which is nearby."
His father Manjunath along with a few villagers came back with Siddhesh to check the track.
They all agreed that it was a risky gap and were discussing what to do.
While they were talking among themselves they heard the sound of another train approaching. One of the villagers suggested that they should wave a red cloth to try and stop the train.
"It was luck that I was wearing a red T-shirt that day," Siddhesh tells Rediff.com "I immediately took it out and started running towards the train."
"I waved the T-shirt vigorously and held it high while I ran. I was not scared. I have seen trains every day of my life. I only wanted to stop the train."
"My father and the other villagers were running behind me. The locomotive driver saw us and stopped the train," he adds.
"I am very happy with my only son, he has made us proud," says Manjunath who has studied only up to Class 5, but would like his son to get a proper education.
Last week, the Karnataka government presented Siddhesh a bravery award on Children's Day.
IMAGE: Siddesh Manjunath with his medal from the Karnataka government.