Giving my brief background: I’m an engineer with the Northern Railways. I have a small family including myself, my wife and a 5 year old son. Though mostly I’m stationed at Saharanpur but my job requires me to travel to the railway stations around 200 Kms of the Saharanpur Junction.
This was 5 years ago, 1st May 2011 around 6 pm my supervisor told me to go for the inspection of Ram Garh train halt. Though it was too late for me to get started for it but he told me there is just one train that stops at this train halt and this train leaves everyday around 9 pm from Saharanpur Junction. I thought to myself that better I should go today only because if I will go tomorrow I’ll end up wasting my Sunday in some secluded small town that too without my family. I packed my bags and got ready to board the 9 pm train.
I asked my wife to pack my dinner because I thought it would be better if I eat later in the night as train would reach the Ram Garh halt around 2 am. Once I reach there I will straight away go to the railways lodge situated in the main town, some 3-4 Kms from the train halt and next morning I planned to inspect the line.
Luckily there was a passenger from Ram Garh only sitting next to me and guess what.. in next 15 minutes I was fully aware of the good places to eat at Ram Garh. While we were sharing each other’s food he also invited me for the lunch next day at his place to which I told him that I will try my best provided my work finishes on time as the next evening I wanted to return back to Saharanpur. He told me that he never gets down at the Ram Garh halt and instead goes to the next station and take a bus back to Ram Garh. I was surprised, “Koi aisa kyu karega Bhaisaab” I asked him. He looked up to me and said “Aap bhi yahi kijiye, apke bhale ke liye bol rahe hain ” but I wasn’t convinced and had made up my mind to get down at the halt and walk down to the lodge. I wasn’t in any mood to put unnecessary efforts to go to the next station and take a bus back.
It was around 1:30 am, I decided to put my stuff together. This line is a single secluded line which runs in this direction from Saharanpur. Also, not many trains even slow down at this halt forget about stopping. I don’t know the reason but I’m guessing because there aren’t many people using this one. I opened the window besides me and there was a little nip in the air. A little cold, a little uncomfortable but not too cold that I can’t step out, I thought in my head. Around 2 am, as I peeped out of the train gate I could see a dim lit board approaching from far, must be Ram Garh. In less than a minute that light was a little too close and train slowed down and almost came to a halt. I stepped down and had just started walking towards the platform when a police patrol vehicle stopped besides me and asked in hindi “Bhaisaab kahan ja rahe ho” I replied “Ji main railway ka engineer hu, bas yahan se railway lodge jaunga”. He retorted ” Saab yahan train se utarna theek na hai, aap wapis train me jaiye aur agle station pe utar k Ram Garh ki bus le lena subah 5 baje. Aap please andar jaiye train ke”. He was asserting too much, I stepped back in the train and waited for the police vehicle to get out of sight. In next 30 seconds, they were gone and I stepped down again and by the time train too had started moving. By the time I stepped on to the platform the train too was gone. I could only see it’s red tail lights.
Though that passenger in the train wasn’t at all in the favor that I step down here but somehow I managed to know the ideal route to the railway lodge. He told me that after walking down some 500 metres from this makeshift platform I have to take a right turn and some 2-3 Kms on that path I should be in front of the lodge. I started walking as suggested . I had nearly walked a 100 steps to leave behind that dim lit platform structure and now I’s on to a secluded path with nearly no lights. Only light I could see was of the full moon , thankfully because of the clear sky. As I was walking I felt like I have stepped on a cloth. It was a red silken type. I moved forward but felt like I’m being followed. I noticed that each of my step is followed by a footstep mixed with the sound of an anklet. If I walk one step I would hear the sound of anklet once and if I start running, I would hear someone running hard following me.
I remember as a child when Granny used to tell us the ghost stories she would always insist that if ever you face such scenario you should never turn around completely and look back. If you ever have to look back just turn your face a little and see. I wonder how this advice from Granny never popped up all these years but today I could recall it. I was sweating hard, my mind was almost frozen. I did not know what to do and was just running and running. And that’s when I felt like the sound of the anklets had stopped. I was skeptical though so I just turned my neck a little and looked behind and what I saw was inexplicable. We have heard numerous stories of ghosts but have never seen one. I wet my pants. Explaining her appearance still give me the Goosebumps and sleepless nights even after all these years.
She was wearing a long white gown with so many frills, she was tall but her body was a little too much disfigured. Her hand and feet were bent inside. I could see her anklets but it took me a little courage to look at her face. As I looked up I was astonished to see that there wasn’t any face.. there was nothing above the neck. I still couldn’t believe what I saw that night. I started running again and this time even faster than ever and again I could hear the sound of anklets following me and running to catch me. And after running hard for some 300 metres I saw that right turn but there was also a left turn. Though in my mind I knew I had to take the right turn but in that moment I turned left and as I turned left there was a narrow passage with the water tankers on both the sides. The tankers were seeping and hence the passage was all wet and slippery. I stopped for a second to take a breath I noticed I could no longer hear someone following me. Does this have any connection to the water, I don’t know but I do remember how in Granny’s stories ghosts would run away from water and fire. The stories which we used to hear as kids probably still hold true even now. I kept walking towards the main town and after walking 3-4 Kms I was there. It was still 4am , I just locked my room and sat on the sofa. I could not sleep even a minute that night, how could I after such eventful night.
At 6 in the morning I went out looking for a tea stall and luckily found one some 100 metres away. I was sitting there sipping my cup of tea when I heard the conversations from the locals about the ghost sightings around that train halt. I did not participate in their conversations but now I knew what I saw last night wasn’t just my imagination.
At around 10 am I walked again to the same spot for the inspection of the tracks. When I looked around I saw an unmanned railway crossing. I came back to Saharanpur the same evening and first thing I had done was to send the proposal for an automated system for the Ram Garh crossing.
Some Facts: According to the official records, India has 30,348 level crossings and out of which 11,563 are unmanned. These level crossings account for 40% of train accidents with the 60% fatalities.