On September 27, Pune police constable Nilam Gaikwad arrived at her workplace Dattawadi Police Station like every other day. Little did the 28-year-old know that the second half of the day had the biggest responsibility in store for her – saving many innocent lives.
Several lives were at risk
Around 11 AM that morning, a breach led to the collapse of the wall of Mutha right bank canal in Pune, flooding the entire region surrounding Dandekar Bridge. The water overflowed at a dangerous speed of 1277 cusecs. The worst affected was the Ambil Odha slum where over 300 houses and shops were inundated within seconds, putting several lives at risk.
She risked her own life to save many
Talking to The Logical Indian, Nilam recounts the calamity where she saved many children, women and senior citizens on her own.
“We received a call informing us about the mishap near Dandekar bridge. I could not imagine the severity until we reached the place. I found myself wading through water up to my waist level. Soon, I learnt that a few helpless women and children were stuck inside the huts, almost on the verge of drowning. Water was gushing into their homes at high speed from all sides, giving them little chance to get out,” she shares.
Using her quick wit, Nilam gathered available items like ropes, tyres etc. which she figured will aid her rescue mission. “I collected a tyre tube from a nearby repair shop, tied a rope on one end and threw it inside. One elderly person stuck inside managed to climb onto it and stay afloat. It also helped to rescue others who clung on to the tyre and were pulled out,” she narrates.
Rescuing the women and children
Meanwhile, several children and women were counting minutes inside the huts. By that time, the fire brigade personnel had arrived who succeeded in securing a long rope between the road divider and the nearest bus stop. Putting her own safety at stake, Nilam Gaikwad launched the rescue operation in full scale without a moment’s hesitation. As the panic-stricken women were getting out one by one, Nilam assisted each of them to safety.
Rescuing the children was the hardest part. “When I got into the water, I had removed my shoes to be able to move faster. But, I could feel heavy stones flowing in from nowhere and hitting my legs in full force under the water. If I am not able to stand properly, how will the little ones manage to wade through this water?” Nilam recalls. Carrying each of the children on her back and braving the water current, Nilam successfully rescued over 15 children in around four hours, along with some senior citizens as well.
She waited at the spot till the water receded, consoling and supporting the survivors. Due to the unprecedented efforts of Nilam Gaikwad and other brave police and fire brigade officials, casualties could be averted.
She has been in the news a year ago
However, this is not the first time Nilam has shown her extraordinary courage and dutifulness. About a year ago, she single-handedly saved the life of a middle-aged accident victim. When the local hospital refused to admit the victim citing the absence of required facility, Nilam quickly arranged for an ambulance to rush him to another hospital at the earliest.
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