Bravehearts who saved Tricolour left in the lurch

Seven bravehearts who risked their lives to save the nation’s pride -- the tricolour -- during the Mantralaya fire on June 21 2012, have been running from pillar to post for the reward promised to them soon after the incident.¬†

Seven PWD employees
Courage under fire: Seven PWD employees who stood guard over our national flag even when Mantralaya was up in flames are yet to receive accommodation as promised by the state government after their brave deed. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

These Public Works Department (PWD) employees, who were in the news on the day Mantralaya caught fire, have received appreciation and awards from across the country. However, the government of Maharashtra has not bothered to keep its promise of giving them accommodation under the CM’s quota.

“Both PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had recommended the step to the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO). However, not a single step has been taken since then,” said Deepak Adsul, who was a part of the team that saved the national flag.

Up in smoke
A massive fire broke out on the fourth floor of the eight-storey Mantralaya on June 21, 2012 and reached the sixth floor where Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s office is located. The Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister’s offices were heavily damaged. Three employees died and 15 were injured in the fire that destroyed computer files, and thousands of sensitive documents and records.

Seven employees -- Rajendra Kanade (54), Deepak Adsul, Premji Roz (40), Suresh Baria (34), Surendra Jadhav (34), Pandit Kendale and Vishal Rane (32) -- were stuck on the terrace on the day of the fire. Despite a lot of smoke coming their way, they did not leave the tricolour fluttering on the top of the Mantralaya alone. 

After acquiring special permission from the Chief Minister, they brought it down safely before the flames could reach it. “We thought that it was the last day of our life. We felt we could not survive,” said Kanade, head of the team.

Politicians, bureaucrats and civilians appreciated their act. The team was honoured by 45 NGOs from all over the nation.

A corporate awarded them for their bravery. The BJP had promised and is financing the education of the children of all seven employees.

Appreciating them, PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal had written a letter to the Chief Minister at that time requesting allotment of flats under the CM quota. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar had also written a letter to the CM requesting the same.

“Ever since the letter was issued by Bhujbal, we are running from pillar to post to get a home,” said Suresh Baria.

“We are homeless. We have no home of our own in the land that we belong to,” said Surendra Jadhav. “The CMO is not listening to our repeated requests.”

The Other Side
“Let me check if Bhujbal saheb and Pawar saheb have written a letter. Then I will put the issue before Chief Minister saheb,” said Satish Lalit, personal assistant to the Chief Minister¬†

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