If you thought that only a miracle could reinstate your faith in the city’s police force, the miracle took place at an isolated beach in Cuffe Parade last morning, where a brave constable was seen risking his life to save a drowning woman.
Ganesh Manohar Sonawane, a constable attached to the Local Arms Unit of Mumbai Police has become an in-house hero in police circles since yesterday, when he braved the waves to rescue a 27-year old woman who was drifting into the sea, after she tried to commit suicide.
One of Sonawane’s superiors has rewarded his selfless act with a cash prize of Rs 5,000.
Sonawane was on bandobast duty at the Pilot Bunder area in Cuffe Parade, when a woman walked past him. “I noticed that this woman was upset and was sobbing loudly. Since it is an isolated spot, people don’t usually loiter here. Initially I thought that she wanted to answer nature’s call; but as she started walking towards the sea, I sensed something was amiss,” said Sonawane, who joined the force three years ago.
“As she began receding further and further from my sight, I realised that she was getting closer to the enormous waves. It was high tide, and the sea was very rough and choppy. Very soon she began drifting deeper into the sea,” recalled Sonawane.
Knowing that every second counted, Sonawane flew into action. Handing over his rifle to his superior, Inspector Prabhakar Maruti Nimbalkar, he dropped his mobile and wallet on the beach. He ran as fast as his legs would carry him towards the menacing waves. Though a non-swimmer, he cast aside his apprehensions and took the plunge.
“As time passed, the sea got even choppier, and the woman was getting carried deeper and deeper into the sea. I just jumped in and tried to reach her. By the time I caught hold of her, I was in neck deep water. To keep my head above water, I kept jumping with the waves. Thankfully, luck was on our side. Somehow, with God’s grace, I brought her out of the water after 10 minutes of struggle.”
Nimbalkar, who is attached to Cuffe Parade police station, said, “I was shocked when I learnt later that Sonawane cannot swim. He was moving towards the woman with confidence. Even when he reached the woman in neck deep water, she was not ready to come out. Sonawane struggled and forced her to come back to the shore.”
After being rescued, the woman was given some water to drink and then taken to the police station. “She has been identified as Noori Tejuddhin Ansari (27), a resident of Navy Nagar in Cuffe Parade. She had an altercation with her husband, after which she decided to jump in the sea. We counselled her and then let her go,” said Dr Ravindra Shisve, deputy commissioner of police, Zone I.
Noori’s husband is an out-of-work labourer, while Noori works as a maid. Both partners were suspicious of each other, another factor that triggered her suicide attempt.
“Sonawane didn’t waste time to think about his life, and jumped into the sea even though he knew that it was high tide. I personally gave him Rs 5,000 as a reward, and I will also nominate him for the prestigious Jeevan Raksha Padak, which is received from the Commissioner of Police Dr Satyapal Singh. Sonawane cannot swim, and yet he thought of helping the woman first,” Shisve added.
Who is Ganesh Sonawane?
Sonawane, who hails from Jalgaon in north Maharashtra, lives with colleagues in Kanjurmarg. He joined the police force three years ago, with aim of helping others.