New Delhi: Harjinder Singh, a 78-year-old autorickshaw driver says he will run the autorickshaw ambulance till his last breath.
Outside Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, in Central Delhi, Singh’s autorickshaw ambulance waits for passengers. A plastic sheet separates the usuallyopen cab from the driver’s seat, while two more sheets on either side of the autorickshaw, commonly called auto in India, prevent water from seeping in.
Singh started running an auto service in 1964 and in 1978, he introduced free auto-ambulance for the victims of road accidents. Lately, he is a part of a community of 10 autrickshaw drivers, who provide free auto service between Bangla Sahib Gurudwara and the Patel Chowk metro station on every Sunday between 7.00 a.m. and 9.30 p.m.
Folding his hands, he says that his service is for God. “If I help people in need, I serve God and he becomes happy,” pointing to the Gurudwara, he adds, “at the end, we all have to show our face to Him.”
His inspiration was Bhai Ghanhia, who is said to have served water and aided wounded during wars with Mughal. In the times of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru, Bhai Ghanhia was a social activist because he did not want to fight the wars and has a water service counter named after him in the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara.
In the 1970s, Singh was made a Traffic Warden by the Delhi Police. With a whistle around his neck and an armband on his left hand, he used to clear the traffic where traffic police could not reach. “As Traffic Warden, I helped many people in emergencies to reach hospitals, railway stations, and bus stop,” he said.
Almost every media channel has interviewed him and he says that the more people would cover him, the more would be the circulation of his message. “I want people to come forward and help the victims of road accidents rather than standing there and shoot videos,” he says adding, “There will be a day when no one will die on the road.”
With his auto service, Singh has managed to graduate his two daughters. However, his two sons could not study further than the 10th standard. “They wanted to help me [Singh] and one of my sons is an auto driver with free ambulance service like me,” he adds proudly.
At the age, when people think about retiring, Singh says, “the more you work, the healthier you stay.” He has helped hundreds of people until now. “They are like an extended family to me,” he adds while surfing through his certificates, awards, and medicines, he keeps in his black briefcase with a red plus sign on it.
“In 1978”, he says adding, “during floods in Delhi, I helped the victims. Along with the government, I went across the city providing first-aid, food, and other necessities.”
In 1986 when Kiran Bedi was Deputy Commissioner of Police of North district of Delhi, Singh claims to have set up eye camps. It provided free tests and spectacles to people.
He plans on starting an NGO in the name of “Bhai Ghanhia Sewa Dal” and including his friends, who are willing to cooperate with him in his free ambulance service. “I plan to write ‘Free Ambulance For Injured in Road Accident’ on the back of 10 autos and take them to the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal so he could advertise the cause on all media channels and spare us from any trouble in case of such emergencies,” he adds.