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Saving lives has become my religion, says Patna diver

Extraordinary character: Rajendra Sahni has been a diver for the district administration for several years. He has rescued over 100 people from drowning till date.

Extraordinary character: Rajendra Sahni has been a diver for the district administration for several years. He has rescued over 100 people from drowning till date.  

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When the Patna district administration learnt of the boat capsize in the Ganga on Saturday evening, the officials called up first Rajendra Sahni even before the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) or, the SDRF.

In his early fifties, Mr. Sahni has been a diver of the district administration for several years and has rescued over 100 people from drowning till date. Hailing from the fishermen community, he and his team not only saved many lives but also retrieved 16-17 bodies from the river.

“As soon as I got the phone call, I along with my team rushed to the spot at Sandalpur diara and started the rescue operation...it was pitch dark and the weather bone chilling but we jumped into the river and rescued five or six people,” Mr. Sahni told The Hindu.

Later, he and 12 members of his team dived down to the river bed to retrieve bodies. It was not easy to spot the bodies in the deep waters of the Ganga.

“I used the hook fishermen use to catch fish to locate the bodies…we fished out about 16-17 bodies,” he said.

Asked how the tragedy could have happened, Mr. Sahni said: “The boat which has a capacity of 20-25 people had a load of 60…it was bound to capsize. Moreover, it was old.” He and his team had lifted the boat from the river bed.

Later the teams of NDRF and SDRF joined the rescue operation.

“I’ll keep saving people as long as I’m alive…saving lives has become my religion,” Mr. Sahni said.

“If he had not been there the death toll would have been much higher. Even the bodies would not have been retrieved so fast,” said Binit Kumar, an eyewitness.

Babloo Sahni and Rohit Sahni, members of Mr. Sahni’s team said “it was heart-rending to see the bodies of children stuck up inside the boat.”

“Every year such festivals are being organised in riverine areas by the government but no proper arrangements are made for the safety of the people,” said Mr. Sahni.

Tanvir, Himanshu, Chottu and Ravi Kumar were local youths who too jumped into the river and saved some lives.

“Had the administration made even five per cent of the arrangements done for the just-concluded Prakash Parv, no life would have been lost,” said Mr. Ravi Kumar.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 3:02:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Saving-lives-has-become-my-religion-says-Patna-diver/article17042448.ece

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