Bhopal salutes its rescue heroes

  • Khushboo Joshi, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: Jul 14, 2016 18:15 IST
Family members of Deepak Sahu who saved 21 lives on July 9 but couldn’t save his own in his heroic effort. (Chandresh Mathur/HT photo)

They came, they saved and they became rescue heroes in Madhya Pradesh. HT introduces the readers to the men who risked their lives to rescue stranded people from flooded areas.

The Madhya Pradesh Tourism felicitated these bravehearts on Wednesday.

Brave Bahadur saves 20 after breathtaking efforts

Dal Bahadur, 45, hails from Nepal. He has been rescuing drowning Bhopalis since 1988. “I came to Bhopal in 1984. It all started when I saved two lives in the Upper Lake. People came to know me as a learned swimmer and I became part of the rain rescue team. I am one of the oldest members,” says Dal Bahadur. He lives in Bhopal with his wife and two children.

Bahadur saved as many as 20 people in Mandideep area on July 9. “I got a call from our manager that I have to leave for Mandideep with motor boat for a rescue operation. I left from Bhopal at 8 am and remained engaged in the operation at Mandideep industrial area till 1 pm. Labourers were stranded in godowns and factories and did not even have food and water,” he says. “I could sense the intensity of the disaster while I was on the way to Mandideep. It was raining so heavily that the driver of the truck could hardly see outside. But we found many people stranded. So, we could not take a chance,” he says.

What do his wife and children think about his profession? Bahadur says, “Sometimes they are unhappy. But, when I narrate them the whole event, they feel proud.”

Bahadur was also part of the 1999 Narmada rescue operations.

It gave expert swimmer, like me, creeps: Suraj Yadav

Dal Bahadur was assisted by 22-year-old boatsman Suraj Yadav on July 9. Yadav says, “We did not have any ladder and people were on the third and the fourth floors of the submerged buildings. There were children too. I managed to get a pole with the help of which I could go up the buildings and bring the children down. They clung to my chest and I was very scared while coming down as it was still raining heavily.”

Yadav says he has been swimming since he was three without any fear. “But this time, I could feel myself trembling as I was coming down the ladder because there were frightened children on my back and chest. I wanted them to get down unharmed,” he says. Yadav hails from Hoshangabad and has learnt swimming in the Narmada. He admits, “There have been several incidents in the past due to Narmada flooding. But, I have never seen such a sight where thirsty and hungry people were stranded in submerged building.”

Yadav is the eldest of three siblings and lives in Bhopal for his job’s sake. He has been working as a boatsman and life saviour at Boat Club since past three years. Ask him whether he shares his life-saving tales with his family, and he says, “I rarely do. They get tensed.”

Asking people to leave homes is difficult: Hari Narayan Yadav

At the age of 25, Hari Narayan Yadav has saved nearly 30 drowning people in Bhopal. He was recently engaged in the rescue operations on July 9 in a flooded Eco-green city and Kabaadkhana area of Bhopal.

Hari says, “We have to deal with the people psychologically as it gets almost impossible convincing them to leave their homes-- they have been living so long in --and come with us. There have been times when we got stuck at one place because people, especially the elder ones, were not ready to leave and we couldn’t go ahead leaving them stranded behind.”

He says, “It feels good after their family members thank us. Some of them even treat us like gods. Many of them remain in contact even afterwards. They remember us that gives us an immense joy,” says Hari.

Nothing more precious than life: Jagdish Majhi

Jagdish Majhi, 30, rescued around 15 people on July 9. “I set off early morning as per the orders. I was with Hari and we had a boat. We couldn’t believe when we saw three-storeyed buildings submerged and people on roofs, without food and water waiting for help. We were lucky enough to find a ladder in Kabaadkhana locality and started rescuing people,” he says.

“I have deeply felt during all such operations that there can’t be anything more valuable than human life. Every human being should realise the importance of life. I have rescued people from rivers and lakes who jumped into them in a fit to commit suicide. But, now they feel embarrassed to remember the reason which made them attempt suicide. So one should value life and always help others in need,” Majhi says.

Hero saves 21 lives but loses his in the effort

Deepak Sahu, 21, saved 21 lives, including that of an elderly woman at Rajiv Nagar, Naya Basera area of Bhopal on July 9. But, he couldn’t save his own in his heroic effort. “He fell off as that roof collapsed. He was trying to rescue a 55-year-old lady from her house. But, his hand slipped and he fell into the over-flowing nullah. Everyone looked on but no one had the heart to make an effort to hold his hands. He saved many lives that day, but couldn’t save his own,” says his father.

Deepak was one of the earning members of the family and used to work as a salesman at a garment shop at New Market. “Deepak was a helping boy. There have been several incidents in the past when he stood out and never cared for his life while helping others,” says his friend Naved Khan.

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has provided an aid of Rs 4 lakh to Deepak’s family and promised a government job to one of his family members.

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