Padma Shri Karimul Haque, who is also known by “Ambulance Dada Of Malbazar”, confirmed the news that a biopic film will be made based on his life.
As his works have inspired all of us, the filmmaker has taken a sketch of a life-based film on him. Aamir Khan or Farhan Akhtar will play the lead role for Karimul Haque but still the casts are not confirmed yet.
A part from famous figure like PV Sindhu, Virat Kohli, P Gopichand and Sakshi Malik, the awards include many unknown heros who have quietly been working for the betterment of society and people. One such inspiration man is Karimul Haque.
IMAGE SOURCE: Sanjay Humania’s Notebook
“Initially people laughed at me, but when help came their way in times of crisis, they started taking my work seriously.” Said Karimul.
He lives with his wife Anjuya Begum, two sons Rajesh and Raju and his daughters-in-law.
His sons have a betel leaf shop and a cellphone repairing store in Rajadanga. Their earnings sustain the family.
“We do not stop him as he feels satisfied by providing this service. Several days we hear his bike roaring out of our home in the wee hours but we never stop him. Also, in these days, residents of several villages and tea gardens bank on my father’s service,” Rajesh said.
In 1995 Haque had gone to the door to door seeking help for his ailing mother who was in desperate need of medical treatment, but he was not able to find an ambulance to take her to the hospital and because of not getting timely medical help, his mother passed away. Heartbroken by the incident, Karimul decided that day that he will not let another person die due to lack of ambulance facilities.
IMAGE SOURCE: People’s Archive of Rural India
The idea of using his bike as an ambulance came to him a few years later when one of his co-worker, Azizul, collapsed on the field in front of him. Karimul tied him to his back and rode 50 km down to the Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital. Azizul got his life back and gave Karimul a new reason to live.
“I could not save my mother because I did not have a vehicle. I had no option but saw her die in the wee hours of a night, 17 years ago.” Said Karimul.
Initially, people thought Karimul was either, disturbed or trying to hog the limelight. But a personal experience had motivated him.
Soon, Karimul, on his bike, became the only lifeline for the village in and around Dhalabari. This area dominated by small tea gardens, daily wagers and peasants, has mobile networks but lacks concrete roads and basic healthcare facilities.
Ferrying a patient to the hospital in an ambulance is a luxury mostly elusive for a majority in the region. Rarely are desperate calls for an ambulance heeded to as the nearest hospital in Malbazar is 45km away and the potholed road meanders through dense forests, notorious for elephant attacks. “The ambulances make an exception for pregnant women. However, it takes them half a day to reach us. The nearest public health centre is 8km away, but it lacks proper healthcare facilities,” he added.
There are times when roads are flooded and traffic does not move. For occasions like that, I taught him the basics of how to dress a wound and administer an injection. I have seen him cleaning wounds of a maggot-hit septicaemia patient,” said Dr Saumen Mandal, a surgeon at the Jalpaiguri district hospital.
Karimul now conducts regular health camps in tribal areas. “After dealing with medical emergencies for the last decade and a half, I felt that I can help more people with health camps.”
The joint secretary of panchayat and rural development department, Dibyendu Das, who was also the additional district magistrate of the region between 2014 and 2016, funded his endeavour on occasions. “Although he gets a meagre Rs 4,000 every month, Karimul spends half his salary buying fuel for his bike and medicines for the poor. I tried and helped him with the little I could through Zila Parishad funds,” Das said.
He saved money and bought a motorcycle in 1998. Since then, Karimul has ferried several thousand in Malbazar to the hospital for free. Patients and sometimes a family member ride pillion on the bike
Karimul said he never charged anyone and was ready to take patients to a hospital even at midnight. Those in need of his “bike ambulance” call Karimul on his cellphone.
“I have left home at midnight to take people to hospitals. I never give it a second thought when I get a call. I cannot forget my mother’s death,” he said.
So far, he has taken over 3,000 patients to nearby health centres and hospitals.
Local people consider him God-send. Some even seek his blessings before auspicious events. “Karimul dada is next to God. When my mother-in-law had a stroke, we thought she won’t live. Thanks to Karimul dada, who drove at jet-speed to the hospital, she is hale and hearty now,” said Bulu Oraon, a villager.
So, what is his ultimate dream? An ambulance fitted with advanced healthcare facilities, says Karimul. “This will help people who live in remote areas in a big way,” he said.
His prayers have been answered, albeit partially. Recently Bajaj upgraded his bike and fitted it with a waterproof stretcher and ports for oxygen cylinder as part of their corporate social responsibility initiative.
But if a proper ambulance comes his way, will he ditch his bike ambulance? “The bike ambulance is my mother. How can one leave his Maa (mother)?” Karimul asked.
“Besides, a bike ambulance will be of more help in these narrow lanes and by-lanes, where four-wheelers get stuck every now and then,” he signed off.
Karimul got a call from Delhi.
“Somebody spoke to me in English and then in Hindi and informed me about the Padma Shri. I had no idea about the award but later, some local people told me about it. If I am getting it for my work, I would dedicate it to my mother, who inspired me to help the poor and ailing people with her life,” he said.
The people of his area are proud of him. Now everyone knows Dhalabari Village.