The train was 10 minutes late but not Sohail Mehmood. As the Super Express pulled into the Landhi railway station, he saw a small boy crossing the tracks unaware of the approaching danger. Without giving it a second thought, Sohail dashed toward the kid, pushing him off the track. The child was badly hurt but alive. Sohail was not so lucky himself.
At 9:35am on August 7, families at the Landhi railway station held on to their luggage - and children - as the train made its way to platform No. 1. But for six-year-old Aminullah, who had come to Karachi from Thatta just to spend a few days with his grandfather, this was a playground.
“The boy was playing with some other kids at the platform when the incident took place,” recalled his 62-year-old grandfather Javed Hussain. He lives in Daud Chali just beside the railway station.
“Aminullah was saved by a God-fearing man but he has not come out of the shock so far,” said Hussain. “He frequently fights with his brothers and bites them too.”
Second among four brothers, Aminullah was badly hurt on the head and the back when Sohail pushed him between the railway tracks and the platform. While he was saved, the 38-year-old railways police constable was caught under the engine’s buffer and was dragged on until the train came to a stop.
“He saw the train coming,” said a vendor, Syed Mohsin Shah, a witness to the perilous jump. “He didn’t care and jumped to save the child.”
“The child was bleeding and trembling but alive,” said the assistant station master at Landhi, Naseem Ahmed.
“Although Sohail was offered water once he was pulled out from under the locomotive, he refused to take a sip as he was fasting,” said Landhi railways police station SHO, Muhammad Saleem. “He died shortly after.”
The father of four, with the youngest only six months old, Sohail joined the Railways police in 2001. Since then, he had saved a lady from an approaching train at Cantt station and another man at some other place, Sohail’s elder brother, Faiq Mehmood, told The Express Tribune.
“He was distressed for more than two months when he couldn’t save a mentally challenged man who was run over by a train,” recalled Faiq. “Sohail should be awarded a Sitara-e-Jurat for his bravery.”
The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation administrator had announced a reward of Rs500,000 for the victim’s family, but Faiq said the family has yet to receive a single paisa. While his spokesperson claimed the “relevant department” was looking into the matter, Muhammad Hussain Syed could not be reached for comment.
“We are proud of Sohail. His sacrifice has lifted the morale of the Railways police,” said Railways SSP Arshad Kamal Kiyani. The Pakistan Railways inspector general, Syed Ibn-e-Hussain, has approved the recommended “Tamgha-e-Shujat” for Sohail, which would be complimented with a reward of Rs500,000 for the bereaved family. Defence Saving Certificates worth Rs1,200,000 were awarded to Sohail’s widow while Rs300,000 each would be given by the Railways Police and Pakistan Railways, Kiyani said.
The railways cop, who saved Aminullah’s life at the cost of his own, was laid to rest with full state honours in the Zafar Town graveyard.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2012.