Amid unfortunate stories of stone-pelting and harassment of non-hindus during garba celebrations making the wrong headlines, Mohammed Manik stands out as a beacon of hope.
The 28-year-old welder by profession saved the lives of nine devotees in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, during Durga immersion on Vijayadashmi. 10 people drowned when the water level suddenly rose in river Mali that day.
Manik was among the thousands of people who had gathered on the banks of the river for the immersion.
While many looked on helplessly as some of the devotees were washed away, Manik brushed aside fears for his own life and jumped into the river to rescue people.
A video of his heroic act has gone viral on social media.
Eight people died in the Harpa Ban disaster during idol immersion at the Mal river in #WestBengal on the day of #VijayaDashami. While #Muslims are being beaten up for their participation in #Dandiya.#Dussehra #Navaratri #DurgaPooja #GarbaDance #DurgaVisarjan #MohammadManik pic.twitter.com/6nn4kHigNZ— Hate Detector 🔍 (@HateDetectors) October 6, 2022
Describing the moment when he decided to hand over his mobile phone to his friend and take the plunge, Manik says, “I saw people crying for help. Whoever, I could get a hold of, I pulled them out and dragged them to the shore.”
Even a cut on his right toe did not deter him from aborting his efforts. He quickly tied a handkerchief around the bleeding toe and jumped back into the river to rescue more people.
A resident of West Tesimala village, Manik has been a visitor to the function of Durga Puja celebrations every year.
His selfless act has earned praise and raised the hopes of all those looking for the real picture of communal harmony and brotherhood.