• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Telegram
  • Koo
  • Youtube
  • ଓଡ଼ିଆରେ ପଢନ୍ତୁ
Vikash Sharma

Puri: An unusual sight plays out at the Puri sea beach every day. A middle-aged man dragging himself on the sand with his bare hands cuts through the towering waves of the Bay of Bengal. Seconds later he is afloat, accosting tourists bathing deep inside the sea back to the shores.

This continues till late in the afternoon when the numbers (of tourists) recede and restrictions come into effect.

It is time for Jagdish Rao, the only Divyang lifeguard at the Blue Flag beach, to pack up and go home to save some energy before returning to the daily grind of saving drowning tourists the next day.

Jagdish is an example of courage and conviction in the face of adversaries. His physical disabilities ceased to come on the way of his missionary zeal in saving lives in a dangerous sea which the fit and the able dare not fathom to venture.

So far, this ace lifeguard who belongs to the local fisherman’s community has saved over 30 lives and the count continues as the sea remains as treacherous as ever.

“I am handicapped down my torso since my childhood. But the sea had always fascinated me. It is for this reason I used to accompany people in boats for fishing. It was then I learned swimming despite my deformities,” says Jagdish with a chuckle.

Jagdish says so far he has saved the lives of around 30 people.

“Whenever I see someone drowning, I raise an alarm and immediately rush towards the sea to save him/her. I am not afraid of the waves,” he says humbly.

Despite his astounding feat and dedicated service that instills confidence in fellow lifeguards and tourists while facing the raging sea, recognition still awaits the brave heart.

“We salute the spirit of this Divyang lifeguard who has been saving lives of tourists day in and day out. We pray that he gets due recognition for his commendable work,” said a tourist.

Simran, another tourist said, “People, who are physically able, do not dare to venture into the sea to save others’ life. But despite his disability, he has shown the world that one can achieve anything with determination.”

Meanwhile, S. Siba Prasad, secretary of Puri Sea Beach Lifeguards’ Association said, “Jagdish is unique and different from others. He is mentally strong and is capable of saving others. But unfortunately, he has not yet received any assistance from the State government.”

Other Stories