Auto Driver Washed Away Saving Lives, Mother Hopes He’s Alive

Pawan Kumar Shah was washed away trying to save a mother-son duo from drowning in Delhi’s Meethapur canal.

4 min read

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam, Mohd Irshad

(Update: Pawan Kumar Shah’s body was found on 28 December in a canal near Haryana’s Ballabhgarh.)

“My child who used to help everyone is not coming to help his own mother today.”

Five days on, even as there is no trace of Pawan Kumar Shah who was swept away by a strong current while saving the lives of a mother-son duo in Delhi’s Meethapur canal, his mother, Kanti Devi, hopes that her son will return alive.

“My heart is saying that my son is alive but my mind says something else.”
Kanti Devi, Pawan’s Mother

Although the police are yet to recover his body despite asserting that rescue operations were in full swing, his elder brother, Pankaj has himself taken up the task and has been trying to trace his brother ever since the incident took place.

On Saturday, 22 December, at around 10 AM in the morning, Pawan was waiting for passengers at his usual spot when he saw a woman with a baby in her arms jump into the Meethapur canal from the edge of a bridge near Madanpur Khadar village in South Delhi.

Meethapur canal bridge near Madanpur Khadar.(Photo: Asmita Nandy/The Quint)
(Photo: Asmita Nandy/The Quint)

Without a second thought, Pawan left his auto and jumped into the water to save the woman and the baby. With him, a fellow e-rickshaw driver, Nadeem, also jumped into the canal.

While the mother and the son were rescued with the help of Nadeem and three other passers-by, Pawan got washed away.

If we got late by even two more minutes, neither would the mother survive nor would the child. I jumped in to save the child mainly because he reminded me of my own kids and I knew swimming so I couldn’t stop myself. But the lady had grabbed my hands so tightly that by the time I realised Pawan needed help, it was too late.
Nadeem, Co-rescuer
Nadeem holds out the clothes he was wearing when he jumped in to save the mother-son duo from drowning.
(Photo: Asmita Nandy/The Quint)

Pawan’s Friend Recalls His Last Words

A close friend and also a mother-figure for Pawan, Samita, who owns a cigarette shop near Jasola, recalled his last words from the fateful Saturday morning.

Samita, a close friend and also a mother-figure for Pawan.
(Photo: Asmita Nandy/The Quint)
“Pawan is very close to my elder daughter, Puja and on Saturday when he came to drop off some wood to light a fire in the evening, I asked him to go meet her since she was at home that day. He refused. Out of anger, he said, “From today, Puja’s brother is dead.” There is a saying that sometimes the bad things you utter come true. I wished he hadn’t said it.”
Samita, Pawan’s Friend

‘I Taught Him to Help Others, I Didn’t Know it Will End up in Tragedy’

Pawan’s family and close acquaintances remember him as a young, caring boy with a heart of gold who would always lend his hand to those in need. “Whenever I would fall even a little ill, he would take care of me, cook for the family and make sure I feel better. Who will be my pillar of support now?” Pawan’s mother said as she broke down in tears.

“I used to teach him that he should never hurt anyone and always help people in need. But I didn’t know my child himself will get drowned someday.”
Kanti Devi, Pawan’s Mother

Pawan used to live with his mother and two brothers – Pankaj and Ranjan, who is currently studying.

"Pawan would earn Rs 300 to Rs 400 every day. He was plying auto-rickshaw since three to four years. He had earlier also helped passengers, but this time, he saved someone's life," Pankaj said.

Pawan’s Name to be Recommended For ‘Jiwan Raksha’ Award

After the locals informed Jaitpur police station, their rescue teams took the woman and her son to a hospital and their condition is now said to be stable.

During an enquiry, the police found that the woman tried to kill herself along with her baby after a fight with her husband.

The police said Pawan's name will be recommended for the Jiwan Raksha Padak.

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