The volunteers of the Dera Sacha Sauda were among the first to respond to the collapse of the six-storey building in Laxmi Nagar late on Monday. Though exact numbers are not available,well over 300 people reached the site within the first hour of the collapse,dressed in track suits emblazoned with the Green-S Welfare Forces name.
The Dera used its extensive grassroots network to inform its members about the catastrophe. I was at home when the call came from the Dera. We are supposed to drop everything we are doing even if we are getting married and rush to the spot when we get the call, said Satender Insan,a postgraduate student from Loni. He arrived at the spot at nine in the night.
Satendra worked for about nine continuous hours,and paused only when a particularly badly mutilated corpse of an old lady sickened him. I felt like throwing up. I had to take a break, he said at 6.30 am on Tuesday,pointing to blood stains on his arms and uniform.
Dera volunteers easily outnumbered the officers of the Delhi Fire Service,and their enthusiasm was no less. We have been trained for seven days at the Deras headquarters in Sirsa. The Dera gives us a uniform,which includes a pair of sports shoes, said Mahipal Insan,a businessman who brought along 11 other Dera members from his Anand Vihar locality.
All Dera members take the Insan surname to signify the one power which created all things and to signal that all things are one. Each Green-S Welfare Forces track suit is also printed with a unique number which helps keep the coordinators keep track of volunteers on the ground.
But by Tuesday evening,the rescue efforts were showing signs of having too many hands on board. The Dera volunteers were asked to work in shifts of 70 each to avoid confusion.