BHOPAL: A 28-year-old school dropout jobless swimmer Nitin Batham was honoured by the Bhopal district administration on Saturday for reportedly saving six to eight youths from drowning in the Chhota Talab (Lower Lake) after the boat capsizes during the Ganesha idol immersion on Friday early morning.
Batham was honoured by the district collector Tarun Pithode with a cheque of Rs 50,000 in presence of the DIG-Bhopal Irshad Wali. At the program, the brave-heart swimmer was also promised a government job for his lifesaving feat. His name will also be recommended by the administration for the National Bravery Awards.
A resident of city’s Chola area, who dropped out of school while in Class VIII, Nitin was present at the spot of the mishap to watch the idol immersion when he saw the overcrowded boat capsized in the lower lake near the Khatlapura Ghat at around 4.30 am on Friday.
Not caring for his life, Nitin who has won medals in swimming and diving at the school level, embarked on another boat and went to the spot where the 19 youths forming part of the Ganesha idol immersion procession from city’s Piplani area were drowning and crying for help.
“I rode the boat and took it close to them and saved six to eight youngsters who were drowning. Had three to four more brave-heart swimmers been there to help me, other 11 youngsters and teenagers who died after drowning too would have been saved,” Nitin told The New Indian Express, while claiming that the home guards and disaster response force personnel arrived there at least 20 minutes after the mishap.
It’s not the first time Nitin has saved people from drowning, as in the past too, he claims to have saved a few people, including a Nepali boy from drowning in ponds and lakes of Bhopal, but those feats remained unsung.
“When I was aged around 15, I found an idol of one of the Jain Tirthankars, while swimming and diving in the Lower Lake only. It was stolen from a Jain temple and the Jain community honoured me for that feat,” recounted Nitin.
The young brave-heart, however, was disappointed about what happened at another function in city’s Jahangirabad locality to honour him.
“A local municipal councillor Rafique Qureshi took me to a hall in Jahangirabad, where I was to be honoured by local Congress MLA Arif Masood. But I was shocked to see, four other persons being feted along with me for saving precious lives during the mishap in Chota Talab. Had those four persons, who claimed to have saved lives with me, actually been there, then all the 11 youngsters who drowned in the lake on Friday early morning, too would have been saved. Is the Congress MLA trying to defame me,” said Nitin.
Meanwhile, four persons, including a revenue inspector, an executive engineer of Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC), the BMC fire safety officer and one assistant sub-inspector of police have been suspended for lapses in the Friday early morning mishap.
However, no action has yet been initiated against around 10-15 cops, who despite being deployed in duty during the Ganesha idol immersion near the Khatlapura Ghat had reportedly left the place around an hour before the mishap happened.
Those cops included Mahila Thana in-charge Ajita Naiyar, a senior ranked cop Abdul Alim Khan and a sub-inspector posted at Talaiya police station.