Karimul Haque, a tea garden worker in his early 50s, on his bike, has become the only lifeline for 20 villages in and around Dhalabari.(HT photo)
Karimul Haque, a tea garden worker in his early 50s, on his bike, has become the only lifeline for 20 villages in and around Dhalabari.(HT photo)

Help on wheels: How north Bengal’s ‘bike-ambulance dada’ is saving lives

Meet Karimul Haque, a tea garden worker in his early 50s, who ferries the ill, the poor and the fragile to and from the district hospital on his bike.
By Rumela Sinha | Jalpaiguri (West Bengal), Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON DEC 23, 2016 02:09 PM IST

The blue flickering light racing through the muddy road is enough to alert the people of Dhalabari village in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district that the ‘Bike-Ambulance Dada is on duty.

Meet Karimul Haque, a tea garden worker in his early 50s, who ferries the ill, the poor and the fragile to and from the district hospital on his bike.

Initially, people thought Karimul was either disturbed or trying to hog the limelight.

But a personal experience had motivated him.

“I could not save my mother because I did not have a vehicle. I had no option but see her die in the wee hours of a night, 15 years ago,” said Karimul.

The idea of a bike ambulance occurred to him a few years later when a co-worker, Azizul, collapsed on the field in front of him. Karimul tied him to his back and rode 50 km down to the Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital. Azizul got his life back and gave Karimul a new reason to live.

“Initially people laughed at me, but when help came their way in times of crisis, they started taking my work seriously,” said Karimul.

Soon, Karimul, on his bike, became the only lifeline for 20 villages in and around Dhalabari. This part of Bengal, known as Dooars and dominated by small tea growers, daily wagers and peasants, has mobile networks but lacks concrete roads and basic healthcare facilities.

Ferrying a patient to the hospital in an ambulance is a luxury mostly elusive for a majority in the region. Rarely are desperate calls for an ambulance heeded to as the nearest hospital in Malbazar is 45km away and the potholed road meanders through dense forests, notorious for elephant attacks. “The ambulances make an exception for pregnant women. However, it takes them half a day to reach us. The nearest public health centre is 8km away, but it lacks proper healthcare facilities,” he added.

Karimul Haque conducts regular health camps in tribal areas. (HT photo)
Karimul Haque conducts regular health camps in tribal areas. (HT photo)

To ease things for the villagers, Karimul has also started providing basic care at their doorstep, having taken intensive training from local doctors.

“There are times when roads are flooded and traffic does not move. For occasions like that, I taught him the basics like how to dress a wound and administer an injection. I have seen him cleaning wounds of a maggot-hit septicaemia patient,” said Dr Saumen Mandal, a surgeon at the Jalpaiguri district hospital.

Karimul now conducts regular health camps in tribal areas. “After dealing with medical emergencies for the last decade and a half, I felt that I can help more people with health camps.”

The joint secretary of panchayat and rural development department, Dibyendu Das, who was also the additional district magistrate of region between 2014 and 2016, funded his endeavour on occasions. “Although he gets a meagre Rs 4,000 every month, Karimul spends half his salary buying fuel for his bike and medicines for the poor. I tried and helped him with the little I could through zila parishad funds,” Das said.

Local people consider him God-send. Some even seek his blessings before auspicious events. “Karimul dada is next to God. When my mother-in-law had a stroke, we thought she won’t live. Thanks to Karimul dada, who drove at jet-speed to the hospital, she is hale and hearty now,” said Bulu Oraon, a villager.

So, what is his ultimate dream? An ambulance fitted with advanced healthcare facilities, says Karimul. “This will help people who live in remote areas in a big way,” he said.

His prayers have been answered, albeit partially. Recently Bajaj upgraded his bike and fitted it with a waterproof stretcher and ports for oxygen cylinder as part of their corporate social responsibility initiative.

But if a proper ambulance comes his way, will he ditch his bike ambulance? “The bike ambulance is my mother. How can one leave his Maa (mother)?” Karimul asked.

“Besides, a bike ambulance will be of more help in these narrow lanes and by-lanes, where four-wheelers get stuck every now and then,” he signed off.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
West Bengal’s deputy labour minister Zakir Hossain(HT Photo)
West Bengal’s deputy labour minister Zakir Hossain(HT Photo)

Bomb attack on Bengal minister: CID detains Bangladeshi national

PTI, Kolkata
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 01:21 PM IST
Hossain, Trinamool Congress MLA and the minister of state for labour, was waiting at platform number 2 to catch a train to Kolkata around 10 pm on February 17 when the blast occurred, seriously injuring him and the others.
Close
The CBI had on Sunday visited the residence of Abhishek Banerjee to serve notice to his wife for questioning. (AP PHOTO).
The CBI had on Sunday visited the residence of Abhishek Banerjee to serve notice to his wife for questioning. (AP PHOTO).

CBI team questions TMC MP’s wife

By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 04:09 AM IST
On Tuesday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who happens to be the aunt of Abhishek Banerjee, visited his house.
Close
CBI team at the residence of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee's nephew and MP Abhishek Banerjee in Kolkata.(ANI Photo)
CBI team at the residence of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee's nephew and MP Abhishek Banerjee in Kolkata.(ANI Photo)

CBI sleuths question TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife in coal scam case

By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
UPDATED ON FEB 23, 2021 11:24 PM IST
  • According to CBI officials privy to the development, Rujira was questioned for around an hour.
Close
BJP leader was named by his party colleague in a drugs case
BJP leader was named by his party colleague in a drugs case

BJP's Rakesh Singh, named by Pamela Goswami in drugs case, arrested in Kolkata

Written by Prashasti Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 23, 2021 10:10 PM IST
BJP leader Goswami, who was also arrested in the case on Friday along with her friend Prabeer Kumar Dey and her security guard after 90 gm of cocaine was allegedly found in her possession, had time and again named Singh in the case.
Close
On Saturday, TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee in a counter challenge to Suvendu Adhikari said that the former minister would lose by 50,000 votes if he contests from any seat of Midnapore district. (AP PHOTO).
On Saturday, TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee in a counter challenge to Suvendu Adhikari said that the former minister would lose by 50,000 votes if he contests from any seat of Midnapore district. (AP PHOTO).

Coal smuggling case: Mamata Banerjee visits nephew Abhishek’s residence

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Karan Manral
UPDATED ON FEB 23, 2021 01:20 PM IST
Moments after Mamata Banerjee left, a CBI team arrived at Abhishek’s place to question his wife.
Close
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Abhishek Banerjee. (PTI)
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Abhishek Banerjee. (PTI)

CBI may question TMC MP’s wife today

By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
PUBLISHED ON FEB 23, 2021 07:06 AM IST
On Sunday, a team of CBI officials had visited the MP’s residence to deliver the summons but Rujira was not present. The agency asked her to join the probe in the matter.
Close
File photo: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. (PTI)
File photo: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. (PTI)

'Mamata Banerjee’s white saree, slippers a façade': MP minister Narottam Mishra

By Tanmay Chatterjee, Kolkata
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:29 PM IST
  • The CBI on Monday questioned Banerjee’s nephew and TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee's sister-in-law in a coal scam case.
Close
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.(PTI)
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.(PTI)

‘Cannot scare us’: CM Mamata hits back

By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 05:28 AM IST
Earlier in the day, Abhishek Banerjee tweeted a photograph of the notice that CBI additional superintendent of police Umesh Kumar left at his residence.
Close
File photo: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.(PTI)
File photo: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.(PTI)

'Not scared of rats': Mamata Banerjee after CBI seeks to question nephew’s wife

By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2021 11:13 PM IST
  • The CBI served notice to Trinamool TMC Lok Sabha member Abhishek Banerjee's wife for questioning in connection with the coal smuggling case.
Close
File photo: TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee.(PTI)
File photo: TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee.(PTI)

'Wont' be cowed down,' says Abhishek Banerjee as CBI seeks to question wife

By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2021 05:16 PM IST
  • The agency sought to serve notice to his wife for questioning in connection with the coal smuggling case.
Close
TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee questioned PM Modi and BJP in his first public meeting in 8 months.(PTI)
TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee questioned PM Modi and BJP in his first public meeting in 8 months.(PTI)

Won't be cowed down: Abhishek Banerjee on CBI summons to wife in coal theft case

Written by Prashasti Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2021 05:15 PM IST
A CBI team on Sunday reached Trinamool leader Abhishek Banerjee's house in Kolkata and served notice to Abhishek's wife Rujira Narula, asking her to join the probe.
Close
The image shared by the Trinamool Congress on Twitter. (@AITCofficial/Twitter Photo )
The image shared by the Trinamool Congress on Twitter. (@AITCofficial/Twitter Photo )

TMC catches on ‘pawri ho rahi hai’ meme, takes a dig at Bengal BJP

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 02:50 PM IST
The TMC shared the original video's parody targeting the BJP over state assembly elections slated for later this year. “Yeh @BJP4Bengal hai. Yeh unki jansabha hai. Aur yahaan inki pawri ho rahi hai!” the TMC tweeted.
Close
The prime minister is also scheduled to hold a public meeting at Dunlop Maidan in Hooghly.(Twitter/narendramodi)
The prime minister is also scheduled to hold a public meeting at Dunlop Maidan in Hooghly.(Twitter/narendramodi)

PM Modi to inaugurate Kolkata Metro extension to Dakshineswar on Monday

Posted by Prashasti Singh | PTI, Kolkata
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 02:50 PM IST
The prime minister will flag off a train from Noapara to Dakshineswar from a programme in the Hooghly district, Kolkata Metro spokesperson Indrani Banerjee said.
Close
In the run-up to the elections, Abhishek Banerjee's name has been dragged into an alleged coal theft case. (PTI)
In the run-up to the elections, Abhishek Banerjee's name has been dragged into an alleged coal theft case. (PTI)

CBI team reaches Abhishek Banerjee's house, summons wife in coal theft case

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2021 06:50 PM IST
BJP had earlier accused that Abhishek also received kickbacks through party's youth leader Vinay Mishra who was appointed by Abhishek.
Close
The BJP’s Bengal spokesperson said that Pamela Goswami may have been framed.(pamela.goswami.5/Facebook Photo )
The BJP’s Bengal spokesperson said that Pamela Goswami may have been framed.(pamela.goswami.5/Facebook Photo )

‘Pamela Goswami’s father says she’s a drug addict’, Kolkata Police claim

PTI, Kolkata
UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2021 09:39 AM IST
Pamela Goswami, a former fashion model and small-time actress, was remanded in police custody till February 25.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP