Netflix’s latest series, “The Railway Men,” is a heart-wrenching narrative of the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984. Amidst the widespread acclaim for the show, this review reflects on one of the unsung heroes of that tragic night—the deputy station master of Bhopal railway station, Ghulam Dastagir. His extraordinary actions saved lives and offered a glimmer of hope in the face of an unimaginable disaster.
On the fateful night of December 2, 1984, Ghulam Dastagir, the deputy station master of Bhopal railway station, found himself in the midst of routine paperwork. Little did he know that this night would forever alter the course of his life. As the Bombay-Gorakhpur Express was due to arrive, Dastagir’s routine took a drastic turn when he sensed something was amiss. His swift action would soon prove to be the difference between life and death for many.
Upon stepping out of his office, Dastagir experienced burning eyes and a bitter throat—a telltale sign that something was terribly wrong. Shockingly, he discovered the lifeless form of Dhurve, the station superintendent, in his cabin. Acting swiftly, Dastagir communicated with nearby stations to halt incoming trains, potentially saving countless lives. Despite the looming danger, he ordered the immediate departure of the Gorakhpur-bound train, ensuring the safety of its passengers.
As the deadly gas claimed the lives of 23 station staff members, including Dastagir’s own son, he and his team worked tirelessly to manage the crisis. Despite struggling to breathe, Dastagir remained composed, coordinating medical help, and providing a ray of hope in the face of impending doom. The station became a scene of chaos as large crowds desperately sought escape from the poisonous air, and Dastagir’s leadership became a beacon of strength.
While Dastagir’s selfless actions spared countless lives, the tragedy took a heavy toll on him personally. The toxic gas led to health issues, with a lump forming in his throat, and subsequent years were marked by frequent hospital visits. The heavy personal cost included the loss of his son to the gas and another developing a permanent skin infection. Despite the challenges, Dastagir continued to exhibit resilience until his passing in 2003.
At Bhopal station, a memorial stands in honor of the 23 railway personnel who lost their lives on that tragic night. Unfortunately, Ghulam Dastagir’s name doesn’t grace the memorial, as his demise occurred nearly two decades later. However, during those critical hours in December 1984, Dastagir exemplified the truth in Gerard Way’s famous quote, proving that heroes emerge from ordinary people who rise to extraordinary challenges.