Quietly from the public glare, four women have stormed into this underground bastion to don a role that the men traditionally played. Four stations of India’s first metro are manned by women. They are also giving their male counterparts a run for their money, literally. One of them outshone her male counterparts as the station managed by her bagged the best station last year.
If you spot a blue sari clad woman in her fifties running about in the Maidan Metro station, do not just judge her capability by her petite frame. She is Indrani Mallick, the senior superintendent of the station. She took charge of the station in February 2010 and in just two years Mallick changed the station’s status. It was voted the best metro station in 2012.
“No doubt it is a challenging job. But then what is the fun of working if there are no challenges involved. It gives me immense job satisfaction,” said Mallick.
Infact Maidan is the most crucial of all the 23 stations because it has reversal facilities for truncated services. Whenever there is a service disruption due to problems like suicide, rake problem or crack in the track, trains are reversed from Maidan. Therefore the station superintendent has to oversee coordination with other stations and manage the crowd with the help of the security people.
“Having a woman run a metro station has its own additional advantages. For example commuter profile has changed and volume has increased by leaps and bounds. As a result many women complain of harassment. These women feel free and confident when they find a woman manager to narrate their plight,” said SP Beckmalachi, station head at Jatin Das Park Metro.
From hauling up men who spit in the station premises, booking ticket-less commuters, detaining eve-teasers till police arrives or preventing suicide attempts, these women are on their toes all the time.
“Even men do not dare to argue with us much as we deal with them with firmness in our own gentle ways. Recently a man was caught spitting. When asked to give the fine of Rs 500 he started pleading that he did not have enough cash. I then persuaded that he clean the spit marks,” said Sabita Beckmalachi who manages Shaheed Khudiram station.
“These women are very efficient and hard working. Some of them have even performed better than their men counterparts,” said Protyush Ghosh DGM (G) Metro Railway.
During times like Durga puja when special trains are run they are there till the last train leaves to ensure smooth services. They even make it a point to stay in the station from the previous night when there is a bandh/strike the next day. Belgachia station is also run by a woman manager.