The contractual Punjab Roadways driver, whose name has been recommended for Gallantry award for saving 76 lives during Gurdaspur terror attack, has requested the Punjab government to regularise his job so that he could sustain his family of six.
The 45-year-old Nanak Chand works on a contract basis with Punjab Roadways and earns a paltry amount of Rs 5,000 per month.
Chand met Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal last week with a request to regularise his salary and that of his conductor, Birender Kumar, who also played a key role on the day of the attack.
"I work on contract basis with Punjab Roadways. I get anywhere between Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000 each month. I have to support a large family that includes my wife, my school going children -- a daughter (17), two sons (20) and (13) -- and my mother," Nanak Chand told PTI over phone on Monday.
Hailing from Samrala village in Pathankot district, Chand said that he has requested the Punjab government to regularise his job along with his conductor.
"When I met CM Parkash Singh Badal, I requested him to regularise our services. He was appreciative of the job we did on the fateful day. Let's see if the government accepts our request," he said.
Chand was appointed on contract basis in 2010 and joined the State Roadways in 2011.
His name will also be recommended for the Gallantry award for civilians to be conferred by the Union government.
Chand showed tremendous presence of mind when the terrorists armed with sophisticated weapons fired at the moving vehicle in a pre-dawn attack in Dinanagar town in Gurdaspur district last week.
Narrating the sequence of events that unfolded on the day in Dinanagar town, Chand said, "The day was like any other day, I was on duty early morning. The bus was on its way from Janian, a village falling along the Punjab-J&K border. We started at 3:40 am and our final destination was ISBT, Sector 43 in Chandigarh. From Janian, we cross 60-70 border villages to reach Dinanagar town, which is 60 km".
"At about 5:30 am, we reached Dinanagar bus stand and I stopped the vehicle briefly. The bus was carrying about 76 passengers including school children, daily passengers and some policemen who were traveling to different destinations for their duty."
"Some more passengers boarded from the Dinanagar bus stand for our onward journey to Gurdaspur, Mukerian, Dasuya, Hoshiarpur before reaching Chandigarh at about 10:45 am," Chand said.
Around 5:31 am, the bus left Dinanagar stand and at 5:34 am, it reached close to Dinanagar police station.
"From a distance, I saw a white colour Maruti car and one masked person was facing the car. As the bus reached closer to him, he tried to stop it by waving his hand. Immediately, I suspected that something was fishy.
"My conductor Birender Kumar also alerted me. He also shouted don't stop the bus. As I tried to accelerate, the masked person fired volley of bullets at the bus. I accelerated and covered the next 15 km to Gurdaspur in less than 15 minutes," he said.
"As two of my passengers had sustained bullet injuries, I drove them straight to civil hospital at Gurdaspur where we got them admitted to the Emergency ward," Chand said.
Asked if he felt scared after bullets were fired at the bus, he said, "All I knew that I had to immediately drive away from the spot. Had I thought twice, who knows a bullet might have hit me and then the terrorist could have killed everybody else onboard."
Seven persons - four civilians and three policemen, including a SP rank officer, were killed by heavily-armed militants who stormed a police station in Dinanagar. Later on, the militants had been eliminated by the security forces in an operation that lasted for nearly 12 hours.
Appreciating the exemplary courage shown by Nanak Chand, Parkash Singh Badal has decided to honour him at the state level Independence Day function with the state award besides giving financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh.