Dinesh Babu and J. Saravanan flung themselves into the Adyar river to save a little girl’s life. Vivek Narayanan meets the good Samaritans

Dinesh Babu has had no formal training in swimming. As a boy, he picked up the ability during visits to his grandfather’s house in Tirutani.

Whatever he learnt back then helped him save a little girl on August 5. He dived into the stinking Adyar river from the Thiru-Vi-Ka bridge and saved a six-year-old girl whose mentally unstable father had flung her into the river before throwing himself in.

“I was going to my office in Mylapore from my house in Thoraipakkam, when I saw a huge crowd on the bridge. I stopped my bike and looked into the river and saw a kid and a man struggling,” said Dinesh Babu, who works as a marketing executive. “I did not think if I would be able to swim or whether the stench and dirt in the river would affect my health. I wanted to save the little girl; nothing else mattered to me.”

On jumping in, he grabbed the girl’s hair and put her on his shoulders. “The girl was frightened. She kept asking if there were snakes or crocodiles in the river. She was also pleading me to save her,” he said.

Dinesh had gulped mucky water. “Luckily, a youngster swam in, holding a rope and guided us to safety. I was then rushed to the Royapettah Government Hospital for treatment,” said Dinesh Babu.

That youngster who came in the nick of time is J.Saravanan, a resident of a slum near the bridge. He works as a tennis coach in Ramapuram. “I have been rescuing people who fall into the Adyar river. A few months ago, I rescued a 50-year old lady who had such a fall,” said Sarvanan, a lanky 23-year old. “I live near the river and am accustomed to the stench. I do not mind risking my life to save another person,” he said. Neither Dinesh Babu nor Saravanan stayed around to bask in the media attention.

Augustine (42), his wife Vimala Rani, daughter Rosalin (6) and their son Dinesh (9), residents of Injambakkam, boarded a bus to Adyar and got down before the Thiru-Vi-Ka Bridge. At 9.15 a.m., when they were along on the bridge, Augustine lifted his daughter and threw her into the river. He then tried to throw Dinesh in, but his wife prevented him from doing so. Augustine then climbed the wall and jumped into the river. His body was recovered the next day.

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