Bangladesh honours rail hero who pulled man off the tracks as train approached

Bangladeshi railway lineman Billal Hossain Mazumder recounting his experience pulling a suicidal man off the tracks in front of an oncoming train, during an award ceremony on Dec 4, 2016.
Bangladeshi railway lineman Billal Hossain Mazumder recounting his experience pulling a suicidal man off the tracks in front of an oncoming train, during an award ceremony on Dec 4, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA (AFP) - A humble rail worker who shot to fame for pulling a suicidal man off train tracks was honoured by Bangladesh authorities on Sunday (Dec 4), as footage of his heroism went viral.

Railway lineman Billal Hossain Mazumder, 50, put his life on the line last month by dragging 34-year-old Mohammad Mamun out of harm's way as a train approached.

"I hoisted the red flag to signal the driver to stop the train, but within an instance, I realised it would be too late," Mr Mazumder said.

"I knew I might die but I also knew if I didn't try to save him, a young stranger's face would haunt me for the rest of my life," he told AFP.

CCTV footage of the entire incident went viral on social media with hundreds of Bangladeshis, many from abroad, applauding Mr Mazumder for his heroic act.

The father of four, who earns less than US$100 (S$142) a month, said he did not have time to consider his own welfare when he jumped on the tracks to save Mr Mamun.

"I would do it again... life is precious. No one should commit suicide even in the face of unbearable pain," said Mr Mazumder.

Bangladesh's Railway Minister Mujibul Haque called Mr Mazumder a "hero" at a ceremony in Dhaka and rewarded him with 100,000 taka (S$1,790) in cash for his gallantry.

"He has set an example for mankind and made us truly proud," the minister said, assuring Mr Mazumder that his son would be given a job at the railway department.

Railway accidents are common in Bangladesh where some 40 per cent of around 2,500 rail crossings are unmanned and exposed to fatal accidents.

In the last six years 152 people were killed in railway accidents. In addition, scores of people, mostly drug addicts, chose railway tracks to take their own lives.