July 12, 2011 3:39:25 am
As the Panshet dam breach began flooding Pune city areas on July 12,1961,two constables attached to the Deccan Gymkhana police station showed enough grit to rescue about 10 persons from drowning. For all their bravery,Mahadeo R Shinde and S D Deshpande were honoured by the police commissionerate with a cash prize of Rs 45 each.
Recalling the terrifying moments when a half of the city was under water,Shinde (badge no 3282) shows a certificate that he has preserved for a good 50 years. The certificate has yellowed,but the words on it are intact. The certificate,issued by Babasaheb Babajirao Rukadikar of B Rukadikars Kalawant Kala Kendra,states,My mother,Tanhubai Rikadikar (60),who was ailing for five years was living near Bhave school on Prabhat Road. She was shouting for help while drowning on the road where the water was rising every moment. Without caring for their lives,the two constables M R Shinde and S D Deshpandejumped into the waters and rescued my mother. They even shifted her to the third floor of Sahasrabuddhes bungalow. I am issuing this certificate to them because they showed lot of courage in saving in my mothers life.
Shinde,now 77,says Rukadikar was not the only one they saved. In all,he says,they helped rescue 10 people and of them five belonged to one family. It all began at 9.15 am. We were going through the files when suddenly there were people running and shouting. When we stepped out of the police station and went around the area,we found the water level rapidly rising, says Shinde.
Near Bhave school,says Shinde,they first heard the cries of Tanhubai. She was shouting Vachva Vachva (save us). Both of us first planned to reach her through some means,but there was no way. So both of us jumped into the water in our uniform. After reaching Tanhubai,we made a rope out of her saree and threw it onto the third floor of the bungalow of one Sahasrabuddhe. The people up there held the rope as Tanhubai made her way to safety, says Shinde. One job over,Shinde and Deshpande then went on to bring at least nine people to safety,one by one.
Shinde says both of them were in the waters for nearly six hours. From 10 am to 4 pm,we remained in the water which had kept rising all the time. Finally,we somehow managed to reach PYC ground in Deccan area where both of us fell uncounscious and later shifted to a hospital. Days later,when Shinde complained that he could not hear voices clearly,doctors told him that he had gone deaf as he remained in the waters for hours together. My father can hear only with the help of a hearing aid, says son Sunil Shinde.
The former constables lament that they did not get their due despite making a Herculean effort. Both of us were given just Rs 45 each by the police commissionerate. That was our reward for saving 10 lives, he chuckles.
Shinde said a police inspector,who was probably close to the then Chief Minister,walked away with the Presidents medal for bravery. This hurt us more.
The Shindes live in a one-room tenement in Kasarwadi. Both his children are married. We are all proud of what our father did to save those drowning. It does not matter if the government failed to do justice to his bravery, says Pramod Shinde,the elder son.
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