Sometimes in life we have to suddenly face situations, which we can only think of in our wildest nightmares. When we imagine ourselves to be in a difficult situation, we derive more thrills out of it, because we are actually not experiencing it in real life and at the same time we are having a marvelous adventure. The unexpected always gets us more excitement than the expected.
In this article I want to highlight the trauma I experienced. When I come to know that the train in which I was traveling was going to be blasted by tribal militants. This incident occurred exactly a year ago in August2000, when I had been to Darjeeling for a vacation with my parents. We were supposed to catch a train to go back to another northeastern state called Assam. The only station nearest to Darjeeling is New Jalpaiguri (NJP).
After reaching the station we got the news that our train had been cancelled because of some bomb blast. My dad finally got a reservation for us in another train called the Avadh-Assam Express coming from Delhi. It was the only train going to the North east of India and so all the people from the cancelled train were in there. What was supposed to be a 12-hour journey to Guwahati, turned out to be a 48-hour game between life and death!
From NJP the train ran for 4 hours till it halted at a station called New Cooch Bengal in West Bengal. When I went near the engine after half an hour, I came to know that in the past two days one goods train and another passenger train were blasted 100kms before Guwahati. BODO militants had planted the bomb. These people are the tribal people, who live in the hilly areas of Assam and they wanted to emphasize their demands for a separate BODO-LAND. They wanted to over emphasize on their demand and create tension, because the India Independence Day was only two weeks away. The goods train was blasted as they mistook it for our train, which was their prime target. So the military and rail authorities decided that they won't allow the train to be run at night, the period when the blasts took place, so we were stranded till 4am.
Sleep had deserted me and for 6 hours in the station I was chatting to people, whom I would never meet in life. Finally at 4.30 am when the train did start, it ran for an hour and stopped at a station called Gosaingauhat, which was in the Assam-West Bengal border. We were told that the Bodo's had organized a 24 hour Assam Bandh. Bandh is a period where all shops are closed, all transport systems cease to work, and as a result the entire city or locality comes to a halt as an act of protest. And for the first time in two years, all rail and road routes were also sabotaged. The train was supposed to start only after 24 hours.
This let down the spirits of all the passengers. We were running out of food and water in the train. The military and army troops were found dime by the dozen, with their dangling AK-47's, trying to keep a peaceful bandh. At 12.30 after lot of protests from irate commuters, the engine was put behind the compartments, and finally we traveled again towards West Bengal by the same railway track! After that luckily our train left West Bengal and we were 120kms short of reaching Guwahati, when we came to know that all the railway tracks were submerged because the Brahmaputra River was flooded. We then got down, caught a tourist bus and reached Guwahati.
What should have been a 12-hour journey, gave us sleepless nights and hungry stomachs, with increasing anxiety for 2 days! From then on, I always expect the unexpected in life! What says you?