Posted on Aug 19, 2018 at 11:30 AM
March 25 th ,2018 was like any other day in the life of driver Sajid Khan for a part of that fateful day. Even in his wildest imagination he never fathomed that it was going to be a D-day for him. That’s how life is scripted by an unknown hand.
He drove his fuel tanker to the petrol bunk in the crowded main market in Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh. He was asked to park his tanker aside and wait. The people at the fuel station of BPCL were preoccupied. Usual story for Sajid Khan. It is only a change in the fuel station location. He parked his vehicle as advised.
The defueling process started after 3 hours, Sajid Khan was half way through emptying the tanker and as he was mopping the traces of possible spill of petrol around the dump head, he suddenly noticed eruption of flames around. May be a short circuit in the vicinity. Soon the small flames turned intensive. The first thought he had was to just escape from the fire, but soon he realised and believed, that he can get the vehicle to safety so that people in around the petrol pump are safe and not affected.
Sajid Khan rushed to close the main valve. The safety training that he went through prompted him to action. The brave heart jumped behind the steering. Before the situation could sink in the people around, he was off with the burning tanker. Not caring a fig about him, Khan drove the vehicle with a determined resolution to take away the towering inferno away from the people and properties. He drove the burning fuel tanker almost five Kms to an isolated place before bringing it to a halt.
He jumped out of the tanker. Obviously, he had severe burn injuries. But wait, his call of duty was not yet over. He rushed with the fire extinguisher to douse off the fire knowing very well that it won’t suffice. At least, some action in the right direction till the emergency fire services arrived. Soon the fire brigade reached and took over the task. The tanker was badly burnt. Had the tanker continued to burn in the petrol pump, it could have led to a massive blaze and disaster. Good Samaritans around gave him a first aid and he was rushed to the nearby hospital for treatment.
Sajid Khan, the brave heart, was indeed successful in averting a major human tragedy by driving a burning truck loaded with combustible fuel away from the BPCL fuel station in Narsinghpur of Madhya Pradesh. His burn injuries, as we meet him 45 days after the tragedy in Nagpur, are healing gradually but not the pocket pinching post-accident scenario. His transporter is willing to take him back but BPCL – the ultimate employer of Sajid via tendering process - is holding back his bread earning tool viz., drivery.
Selvan Dasaraj and Ramesh Kumar founders of TransportMitra-Driver Ka Saathi and Drivers Duniya took the initiative to recognize the bravery of the driver. Friends of Drivers, a dedicated WhatsApp group for the welfare of the drivers chipped in to reward the “Brave Hero-Sajid Khan”. The Mahindra Trucks and Buses, the prominent HCV manufacturers, voluntarily stepped forward and contributed 50,000/- as a token of their appreciation for Sajid Khan. All India Confederation of Goods Vehicle Owners Association (ACOGOA), one of the prominent fleet owners lobby, chipped in with Rs.10,000/, Naya Manch Vikas Manch (NMVM) Foundation, a newly formed trust, Chairman Prahlad Agarwal came forward to not only contribute financially with Rs.10,000 but also to include the bravery award into NMVM annual meet at Nagpur. TransportMitra a “Truck Driver” wellbeing company finally chipped in 10,000 to make the grand total of the “Bravery Award” to a Lakh of rupee.
Though gifting a cheque of funds collected by TransportMitra -initiated crowdsourcing to institute a Bravery Award for brave action and presence of mind of truck driver Sajid khan was supposed to be a tiny event at the inauguration of NMVM Foundation, the Sajid Khan episode virtually turned into a scene stealer and show stopper.
No speaker could resist confining his/her speaking slot entirely to applaud Sajid Khan’s bravery .All said and done he was the cynosure of all eyes at the gala function. Again, unexpectedly but pleasantly, the overall theme of the function turned into discussing the sad plight of truck drivers and how the entire society is letting them down by not showing even basic humanitarian touch! And what ought to be done to redress this anomaly .At the end of two and half of hour colourful event, there was a mad scramble among the audience to get themselves photographed with this Braveheart. An equivalent to fans seeking autograph from their favourite star or player of any game. The evening truly belonged to Sajid Khan. Flowers and a big fat Rs.one lakh cheque. Unending encomium. For Sajid Khan, not used to such adulation, it would have been an unforgettable evening. A brave truck driver felicitated? Sajid Khan would be rubbing his eyes in disbelief on his return journey to Seoni, near Jabalpur with his kith and kin.
Surprising part of this story: Oil marketing company BPCL did nothing to this driver so far, who saved one of its pumps going up in flames by putting his own life at peril. Heartless organization? Unable to decipher. BPCL officials spoken to offered the lame excuse that the officer concerned dealing with the fuel station in question is being transferred on a routine basis. Khan bravery would be considered when a new officer takes charge. A Shameful act. Though BPCL officials were invited for the Bravery Award function in mid-May event, none turned up expectedly.
The entire Narsinghpur District and the Truck driving community salute his bravery. We hope the Central Govt. recommends Sajid Khan’s name for the Jeevan Raksha Padak, the civilian honour bestowed on real brave-hearts.