It was exactly 14 years ago when 52-year-old Karimul Haque from Dhulabari, West Bengal, who has bagged Padma Shri, lost his mother as he was unable to find any ambulance or vehicle to carry her to a hospital. That incident changed the life of a tea garden worker who converted his bike into an ambulance offering free 24X7 ambulance services to the needy.
Gradually people started called him by bike ambulance dada. Running the service in Dhalabari village of West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, Haque according to rough estimate has saved over 3,000 people as he is always ready to transport the poor to the district hospital on bike, often providing first aid as well.
Surprisingly, he has done so all these years single handedly and won local residents’ applause.
“I lost my mother because I couldn’t get her to the hospital on time. I don’t want anybody else to face the same. That’s when the idea of running a free ambulance came in,”
While talking to a daily, this is what Haque said: “I work at the tea plantation and earn Rs 5,000 a month. Out of this, I use Rs 1,000 for the ambulance and its maintenance and I give home the rest,” he says, adding, “Most people I help are poor who can’t afford hospital fees. In that case, I try to pay as much as I can.”
Besides helping the needy, Haque is known to collects rice, blankets and clothes, and distributes it among the needy. “I get donations from school teachers, cops and sometimes students too. That helps fund the treatment for the needy,” he told the daily.
Murli Manohar Joshi, Sharad Pawar and former Lok Sabha speaker late P A Sangma, cricketer Virat Kohli and singer K J Yesudas were among the 89 people who were selected for this year’s Padma awards.
Others to get India’s second highest civilian award included Joshi, Pawar, Sangma and Yesudas, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP veteran late Sundar Lal Patwa , spiritual guru Jaggi Vasudev , and former ISRO chairman Prof Udipi Ramachandra Rao.