"Risking 2 Lives Worth Saving 2000": Tripura Man Who Averted Train Mishap

When NDTV visited Swapan Debbarma's dilapidated hut in Dhanchara, Swapan was busy arranging documents for a bank account -- his first

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Swapan Debbarma couldn't study after class 4 because of extreme poverty.


Ambassa, Tripura: 

Risking two lives was worth saving 2,000, that's what Tripura's "hero" had thought when he sat with his daughter on the tracks waiting for the train. On June 15, when Swapan Debbarma and Somati saw that huge landslides following heavy rains had affected around a kilometre of the tracks, they decided to do something.

"We knew if the train runs over, it will definitely stop. We thought if thousands of precious lives can be saved, then it was worth risking ours," 39-year-old Mr Debbarma told NDTV.

Swapan and his nine-year-old daughter Somati were walking along the tracks in Ambassa, about 80 km from Agartala, when they noticed a missing section of the tracks. The duo sat there and waited for about two hours. When they saw a train, they got up and waved at the train. 

"That day, it was raining and we didn't have food at home. I went out with my daughter in search of fish. As we followed the railway track we noticed the damage. The train had to be stopped. As soon as we saw the train, I took off my shirt and waved, but it didn't stop. So we stood in the middle. Finally, the driver saw and stopped a few metres from us," he said. 

An amateur video of the incident made the Debbarmas famous. Cricketer Virender Sehwag tweeted praises for him. In Tripura, he is now known as "Superman" and God's incarnation.

"That day God descended on him and he saved so many lives, that's what we believe," said Ratan Saha, a local from Ambassa in Dhalai district. 

"I have moved a resolution in the assembly that he should be considered for national bravery award," said Tripura Health Minister Sudip Roy Burman.

When NDTV visited his dilapidated hut in Dhanchara, Swapan was busy arranging documents for a bank account -- his first, after he missed out on the government's Jan Dhan Yojna.

Swapan couldn't study after class 4 because of extreme poverty. They brought firewood from the forest and sold it in the local market. The family didn't make more than Rs 60-70 a day.

"So if there was rice then there was no salt, and if salt and oil were there, we didn't have rice," he said.

"I don't have a MNREGA job card. I don't have a bank account. After the train incident, I was rewarded. But I didn't have a bank account to encash the cheque. Now people are helping me open an account," he added. 

Swapan is among thousands of poor and marginalised tribals in Tripura who don't have access to drinking water, electricity, or sustained livelihood.

And despite his struggles, he didn't lose the path of humanity. In fact, he has set an example at a time when mob violence has taken several lives in Tripura and across the country.

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