ibnlive » India

Jun 19, 2007 at 09:39pm IST

Women are coolies at this station

Bhavnagar (Gujarat): The Bhavnagar Railway station in Gujarat may look like most other railway stations in the country. But this station has something that no other station has.

There are 35 women porters who have been a permanent fixture at this station for generations.

"My great grandfather, my grandmother, and myself, we have all worked here as porters for the last three generations,” says Kamuben Rathod, who has been working at the station for two decades.

Another porter, Manguben Diweacha, who has been at the station for the last five decades says,”In those days the King of Bhavnagar use to come here in his bogie. Those days were so amazing. We all use to bow before him with respect,” says Manguben.

A century ago, the King of Bhavnagar, Maharana Krishna Pratap Singh created an employment opportunity for the women of his constituency. For the first time in history, he appointed women porters at the Bhavnagar railway station - a legacy that has been kept alive till this date.

Most of the women have been working at this station for more than two decades now but they say that the times have not only changed, they've been tough.

"In between the Bandra Bombay train stopped and we were almost reduced to working as servants in people's houses. We had lost all hope,” says Manguben.

But luckily that didn't last for long. Today the women are back at work waiting for that next train that chugs into the station.