New Delhi: A tea garden worker Karimul Hak of Jalpaiguri, West Bengal who is popularly known as bike ambulance dada has so far saved over 4000 lives due to his selfless service.
In villages where pucca roads, electricity, and other basic amenities are considered as luxury, people lose their near and dear as the nearest hospitals in such areas are located 40-50 km away.
A similar situation was also faced by Karimul Hak. Twenty-five years back, he lost his mother because he could not afford to hire an ambulance to take her to the hospital.
Later, when a co-worker fell sick, he resolved that history would not repeat himself. Thus starts the astonishing journey of this tea garden worker who has saved thousands of lives by starting a free ambulance service from his village to the nearest hospital in order to fill the gap that insufficient rural healthcare has created.
Recipient of Padma Shri
Recipient of the Padma Shri honour in 2017, Hak, whose journey has now been chronicled by author Biswajit Jha in ‘Bike Ambulance Dada’ (Penguin) that recently hit the stands smiles that he did know that a book was being written on him. “Jha has been meeting and working with me for the past two years. He never told me that he was writing about my life and work. This comes as a pleasant surprise. Of course, now he has read what he has written about me, considering I cannot understand English.”
Stressing that he derives a peculiar satisfaction from running the ambulance service, something that keeps him going, Hak added, “Seva assures the giver abundant happiness. I just can’t imagine someone meeting the same fate as my mother.”
Believing that only individual efforts can ascertain a change for the better in the society, he feels that waiting for the government or the corporate sector to step in to make life better for the common person would be like chasing a mirage, the reason that he does not even approach authorities for funds. “Any political party I go to will expect me to raise their flag, something I am unwilling to do. There is no point asking them for finances.
The social worker, who is now building a hospital and plans to start several projects including an old age home and a training centre for unemployed youth in his village believes that people extend help whenever they see an honest effort being made. “People from across the country visit and stay with me. I get donations from private individuals who know that their money is being utilized for a greater good.”
Boasting of four bike ambulances he runs now, Hak is optimistic that he would be able to achieve what he started out for.
Author Biswajit Jha, a former journalist who also runs a school in the same area says that he was hooked to Hak’s vision and determination the moment he met him. “I had heard about him and read several news reports, but his grit is just undefinable. Here was a man who earned just Rs 4000 a month and still dedicated himself to such a cause.”
Jha, who completed the book in four months says that the journey of writing the book which involved working with Hak has been an eye-opener. “There is no place for giving up in Hak’s life. That has been an education for me,” said Jha, who has completed another book, a work of fiction.
With inputs from agencies