“I just jumped. It was an impulse, and I did not think once as to what could have happened,” says Mohammad Manik who has become an internet sensation since he saved nine people from a disaster at the Durga Puja immersion site near Mal Nadi in West Bengal.
Unfortunately, eight people lost their lives in the flash floods.
Manik hails from West Tesimala Village near Malbazar. He is a welder and lives with his wife, infant son, parents and younger brother.
“Like every year, I visited the Durga Puja site to attend the celebrations and enjoy the scenes of the mela. But this year, the visit was meant to be the most painful time of my life,” Md Manik told Maktoob.
how the river’s level suddenly rose to a dangerous extent, and the speed increased in seconds. All this started around 8:30 pm, right after Manik had reached the place.
“It was a scary situation, people started running, but the ones who were already in the river were helpless and tried their best to swim. I just jumped. It was an impulse, and I did not think once as to what could have happened. I just knew that I had to save those people. I am still devastated over how I would have saved more if my foot had not gotten injured.”
His right toe had been injured severely during his race to save lives. He was offered a handkerchief from a firefighter, wrapped it tightly around the toe, and resumed his bravery.
Manik was part of the rescue operation till 11 pm or till his body gave up. The civil defence volunteers on duty jumped right after Manik. The fire brigade came to the site as soon as possible, and after an hour the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) joined in too.
When asked about why he attends the Durga Puja every year, he replied, “It’s our culture. In West Bengal we attend each other’s festivals with utmost happiness and affection. There is no Hindu-Muslim clash. And wherever this clash is ongoing, I request them to end all this violence, because it will only bring destruction to everyone’s lives.”
The people were screaming out of helplessness. He brought many people to the shore who were either stuck on the sandbanks or clinging to the rocks in the river.
“I can still hear those screams. I have not been able to eat properly since this happened. It was a tragic site, I just cannot get it out of my head.”
Manik said he is connected with two civil society associations that support people by governing blood donation camps and donating clothes and food to the poor.
“Our committees have people from all beliefs”, he said.