SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
M A I N   N E W S

Tea vendor, an unlikely saviour
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 27
Before the murderous assault on him, the Tehsildar merely acknowledged the existence of the tea vendor. But since Friday (June 19) - when the vendor risked his life to save him - a strong bond has developed between Major Gurjinder Singh Benipal (Retd) and Bikram Singh.

Bikram alias Dana (34) can be seen these days at the DMC hospital, where the Tehsildar is slowly recovering. He sits there quietly and doesn’t speak much. The man, who braved the assailants armed with sticks, rods and baseball bats, has to be cajoled to recall the events of that fateful day.

He was washing utensils when he heard Benipal’s raised voice, ordering some persons to follow the queue. Soon there was a commotion and he saw people running helter-skelter for cover. When he rushed out to see what was happening, the vendor said, he saw over 20 persons, some of them had their faces covered, raining blows on the officer.

There were scores of other visitors in the office but nobody dared to intervene. But the frail, unassuming Dana flung himself into the melee and shouted, “Don’t kill the sahib. Kill me instead”. He then offered a protective cover to the officer who was lying on the floor. Twice he was yanked off and beaten, but he crawled back and took blows directed at the Tehsildar.

“I had heard visitors speak highly of the sahib and about his integrity,” Dana said, adding that he thought he cannot let the man suffer. When I saw him being attacked, I could not think of anything else. I had to save him,” said the vendor, who looks much older than his age.

Dana sustained injuries on his back, face and arms but created sufficient distraction for the assailants, who decided to make a hurried escape. But before doing that they, in a final assault on officer’s dignity, stripped him naked. Dana took off his turban and draped it round the Tehsildar’s waist and then helped him climb the stairs to reach his office. There he helped the sahib put on his clothes before calling for help.

A father of two daughters, who study in class VIII and a son, who is in class VI, Dana, barely manages to earn Rs 200 a day. His wife, Ajmer Kaur, works as a domestic help and chips in to take care of the family expenses. The officer has now promised to bear the educational expenses of the two children. “I am extremely touched. I have never come across such selfless devotion and courage. I never did anything for him, but he risked his life for me,” said an emotional Benipal.

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