Meet Manoj, the man preventing suicides at Prayagraj’s Yamuna Bridge
The New Yamuna Bridge at Prayagraj is fast emerging as a popular tourist spot. At the same time, it is also becoming notorious for suicides. According to record, since its construction in 2004, the bridge has witnessed a whopping 1100 people attempting suicide, and of them over 600 ended up dead.
While nothing much could be done to prevent people from attempting suicide from here, one man who people look up to every time someone jumps into Yamuna is Manoj Nishad, one of the boatmen deployed at Yamuna ghat to ferry tourists to Sangam.
Credited with saving the life of over 60 people, Manoj, 33, in fact is known as ‘son of Yamuna’ and a savior. “Manoj is a good diver and has saved countless lives. Recently he and his uncle saved a woman who had jumped into Yamuna with a kid tied to her waist. It was no easy task, but they managed to save both,” said sub inspector Kadedeen, who is in-charge of water police, Sangam. “I make a living rowing the boat across the Yamuna for past eight years independently and before that assisted my father who is also a boatman. Being from the Nishad community, I feel, I was a born swimmer,” said Manoj, a resident of Chaukhandi area of Kydganj locality.
Unable to recall the first person whose life he saved, Manoj said since the frequency of people jumping off the bridge is really high it is difficult to keep a count.
What hurt him more is the fact most of the victims are young people aged between 15 and 25.
“It is sad to see young people give up,” said the man who has managed to save over 60 lives and fished out around 100 bodies.
Having started his career as a driver, Manoj turned into a professional diver after his marriage.
“The salary was low and I was forced to drive long hours. After my marriage I gave up driving and took to rowing boat, which now helps me earns Rs 250 a day. It was as a boatman that my work of saving lives began,” he said.
Insisting that spotting an individual jumping off the bridge and responding to the splash in a flash is key to saving lives.
“Scanning the bridge as you go about your daily job has become a habit. You have just a few minutes to react. Even a little delay or hesitation can cost a life. If the person is conscious, many a times they resist and you have to overcome that also,” said Manoj, who gets nothing in cash or kind for “life-saving” initiatives.
“I don’t need anything but if the authorities can arrange for some sort of net to prevent suicides from the bridge, it would reduce my work load,” he said.
“In light of frequent attempts of suicide off the New Yamuna Bridge, patrolling has been increased. Private guards and personnel of eagle mobile team of the district police are also put on duty to stop such attempts. But the district police are thankful to all members of Nishad community who help us search for bodies and rescue such people jumping off the bridge,” said Amit Kumar, ASP (Baihrana), Prayagraj.