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London, Sep 23 (UNI) A growing number of Asian women are committing suicides on the railway tracks, according to a report by the First Great Western which made the startling and worrying revelation.

The rail suicides soared to 240 last year as against 203 in 2005 basically because Asian women were killing themselves on the just one stretch of track in west London, that is Southall.

More terrifying was its disclosure that one-third of the total for England and Wales now happen on the line going through Southall which is part of West London. Figures from a route manager at First Great Western trains confirmed this- 80 of the 240 rail suicides nationally last year were on the lines into Paddington, West London.

As over 70 per cent of families in Southall area are Indian, the internal report of the train company in fact reveals that more Indian women are now prone to killing themselves in front of train.

It is true that most of its trains pass through Southall, and quite a few like the Heathrow Express which do not stop at the Southall station.

A company spokesman while saying the rail firm was making strenuous efforts to tackle the problem, added, "Suicide on the railway is a national issue and is a terrible tragedy for all involved, including crews.

"First Great Western has seen a number of suicides on the main line in an area west of London. Victims may come from the communities where lines run through, but the firm does not categorise by race.

Managers are working with The Samaritans to address the issue." The First Great Western manager's report added that in just one week in July there were four suspected suicides in four days on the track between Slough and London. His analysis said a "disproportionately high number" of the total fatalities in the area were women of Asian origin, 80 per cent of whom are from Punjab.

The report added that in just one week in July there were four suspected suicides in four days on the track between Slough and London.

The most tragic incident which traumatised the whole of Britain was the jumping of young Navjeet Sidhu, 27, clutching her five-year-old daughter and 23-month old son in front of a Heathrow Express train passing the Southall platform at over 100mph in 2005.

The engine driver spotted while the train was almost near the platform and could not manage to stop. She had telephoned her husband just before taking the fatal jump. When he came there rushing in his car, he took the son who was still breathing to a hospital but he died there.

Six months later Mrs Sidhu's mother Satwant Kaur also killed herself at the same spot by jumping in front of the same Express.

The cause why Navjeet committed suicide is still not clear. There was no suggestion that she was abused. But an inquest heard she felt she had failed in her duties as a Sikh woman to be a good mother and home-maker. Neighbours had reportedly said that the couple had arguments frequently.

Hannana Siddiqui, from women's group Southall Black Sisters, claimed abuse and "sensitive cultural issues" were at the root of the problem. The high instance of Asian women suicides is linked to abusive practices within Asian families. "There is a correlation between these suicides and violence in Asian homes. Psychiatric research has shown there are rarely cases of mental disorders in these cases, suggesting they are the result of social circumstances.

These women are often isolated and find it hard to escape," she said.

Whittaker Khan, a muslim playwright who has written about the social problems affecting Asian communities, said: "They feel there is no other way of escaping problems such as adultery, domestic violence and alcoholism." UNI

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