Hari Om Gahlot (49), who was killed in a cylinder blast in Vikaspuri on Friday, had been a firefighter for the past 28 years. He was regarded fearless among his colleagues at Janakpuri Fire Station and had been promoted to the rank of havaldar on June 5, 2016.
When a BSF plane crashed in Dwarka in December 2015, killing all 10 on board, Gahlot single-handedly took out seven bodies from the wreckage. Few months later, he was nominated for a bravery award for saving an old woman and two children from fire.
Whenever his daughter Ankita (22), a second year BTech student, asked him why he risked his life so much, his reply would always be — “yeh toh meri duty hai (this is my duty)”.
Whenever there was a call to duty, Gahlot was the first among his colleagues to take the lead, for which his seniors admired him. His family said that his strong urge to save people during fire incidents had often left him injured. But he was never bothered by it.
“My father was brave and always said that he got a lot of satisfaction from his work. He used to be alert always when it came to going on fire calls. For him, injuries were insignificant compared to people’s lives,” said Ankita.
Gahlot is survived by his wife Suman (43), daughter Ankita and son Tushar (17), a class 11 student.
Gahlot was born and brought up in Kakrola village near south west Delhi’s Dwarka.
No one noticed when he was bleeding to death
When Gahlot and three other firefighters were blown away due to the impact of the cylinder blast, he landed a few metres away on a ground full of grass. It was pitch dark and no one realised for few minutes that Gahlot was lying nearby, bleeding from jaws and in pain due to the burn injuries all over his body. A local named Mohammed Imran helped get Gahlot to the PCR van.
Imran, not caring about what might happen to him, pushed past the firemen and went towards the struggling figure, which was none other than Gahlot’s.
“He was still breathing. His right side of the jaw had been burnt badly. I shouted to the others for help and that brought him to the attention of other firemen. He was then picked up and taken to the PCR van. He even tried to get up on his own, despite being injured so badly,” said Imran.
His family got a call from his colleagues about his death. At first, no one believed it. They thought that he would come out of it, as always.
“He has been a firefighter for so long and has suffered from injuries so many times that we thought that he will survive this one too,” said Ankita.
Gahlot succumbed to his injuries 30 minutes later at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital.
Another family trying to come to terms with the death
Ram Gopal Meena, brother of deceased Hari Singh Meena, said that the family is shattered by his untimely death. They have taken Hari Singh’s body for cremation to their hometown at Alwar in Rajasthan. He lived in Shyam Vihar Phase-1 in Najafgarh with his wife and three children.
“His three children — two daughters and one son — all in the age group of 5-15, have lost their sole bread earning member. We have still not come to terms with his sudden death,” he said.