Single mother sports coolie's badge in R'than

A 33-year-old widow has chosen the male-dominated profession of a railway coolie, becoming the first woman porter in Rajasthan.

Manju Devi, a mother of three, was earlier a homemaker and decided to become a coolie after the death of her husband Mahadev, who also worked as a porter.

Devi, who has been working at the Jaipur railway station for the last few days, was formally handed over her licence by the railway officials here on Friday. She was transferred the licence of her deceased husband and badge number 15 was handed over to her, said Tarun Kumar Jain, NWR spokesperson.

“I lost my husband due to a prolonged illness a few months ago. After his demise, I faced a hard time in meeting our needs. I am illiterate but I can work as a coolie. Someone guided me to contact the railway authorities. I approached the officials who transferred the licence of my husband to me, Devi said.

“I have no land, no money and I understand that I have to struggle to educate my son and two daughters. I have to stand alone. Hence I took the hard decision and I am satisfied with this,” she said.

Devi now lives in a rented accommodation near the railway station while her children are staying with her maternal uncle in Harsoli village. Before her husband's demise, she lived in Sundarpura village near Renwal in the district.

“When I am settled here, I will bring them to Jaipur and make arrangements for their education,” said Devi, who works for almost 10-12 hours and manages to earn Rs 100 to 150 a day.

She praises male coolies at the junction and says they are supportive and guide her to do the job perfectly.

“It is a male-dominant job, but they support me,” she added.

According to a male coolie, it is a matter of pride for them that a woman coolie is working with them. ‘She is new to Jaipur and does not know all the aspects of the work, but we help her and keep her with us,” said Prahlad, a coolie.

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