It was just another routine day when Om Prakash Yadav, then 10 years old, started for his school on September 24, 2010, in Azamgarh. He had barely moved some distance when he saw a school van burning with several students stuck inside. The driver had already fled.
Without caring for his own safety, Om Prakash pulled open the door of the van and rescued eight minors even as flames . By the time he was done, flames had spread to his face, ears, back and arms leading to serious burn in juries. Om Prakash was rushed to the district hospital where doctors referred him to Varanasi. He remained admitted there for 18 days and spent another 42 days in a hospital in Azamgarh before being discharged.
Since then the boy, now 16 years old and a student of Class XI, has spent a considerable time and money in hospitals for surgeries. His father, an auto-rickshaw driver in Gujarat, is now running from pillar to post to arrange for funds required for corrective surgeries of Om Prakash’s face and neck.
“The first successful surgery was conducted in 2014 in Varanasi where doctors separated Om Prakash’s right hand, which had got attached with the waist and the chest following burn injuries. That surgery had cost around Rs 2 lakh. For two months post surgery, I took Om Prakash to Varanasi from Azamgarh every alternate day for dressing. Last year in June, the doctors advised for plastic surgery on his face and back,” said Om Prakash’s father, Lal Bahadur Yadav.
The father, however, said he has not been able to arrange for funds for the surgery. “I have already taken a loan of Rs 2.5 lakh from private persons in Azamgarh for my son’s treatment. We are poor and it would not be possible for us to take any more loans for the surgery,” Lal Bahadur said.
In 2012, Om Prakash was awarded with Indian Council for Child Welfare National Bravery Award-2011 by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Then President of India, Pratibha Patel, too, had given him a certificate stating: “The Nation is proud of you”. Om Prakash had then got Rs 1 lakh from the President and Rs 40,000 by the Prime Minister – the money was mostly spent on his medication.
Lal Bahadur claimed that two two months before the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, they had visited Lucknow to seek help from Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav but failed to meet him. “I handed over my application to his office,” he said.
While Lal Bahadur tries to make ends meet by driving an auto-rickshaw in Gujarat, his wife Sandhya Devi along with their four children , including Om Prakash and three daughters, live in Bilariyaganj area of Azamgarh. The marriage of the eldest daughter is fixed for April this year.
Azamgarh is the parliamentary constituency of ruling Samjawadi Party’s chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Coming to know of the family’s agony, a team of district administration comprising senior officials and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) visited the family’s residence last week and assured of all possible help.
Contacted, Azamgarh district magistrate, Suhash L Y, confirmed that a district administration team had visited the boy’s house and found that financial condition of the family was not good. “An arrangement has been made to provide ration card to the family and Kanya Vidhya Dhan to the three unmarried girls,” he said, adding, that a recommendation for financial help to Om Prakash for plastic surgery would be sent to the CM after doctors prepare the report.