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Ranchi: Auto driver turned covid warrior becomes national hero

Ranchi: As India touched the landmark one billion covid vaccination mark on Wednesday, the Union ministry of steel has released a special video dedicated to a 21 year-old Ranchi based auto driver, Ravi Agarwal as a special gratitude for his selfless work during the second wave of covid-19 pandemic by offering free rides to infected patients to hospitals.

The ministry released a three minute seven minute video dedicated to him through its social media handle. It also released a similar video separately on a Ranchi based doctor and Padmashree doctor S P Mukherjee, who since 1966 has been offering medical consultation to people only at Rs 5.

Talking to TheNewsFiles, Ravi, who is currently pursuing final year of B.com from Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav college said that endless vagaries of covid infected people in difficulties in reaching hospital on time prompted him to turn his auto into an ambulance to race them to heal hubs on time.

“Such was the panic all around that people weren’t getting vehicle on time to reach hospital during the second wave of covid-19 pandemic. Even if ambulances were ready to ferry infected persons, they would charge hefty rates without any checks. That’s when I decided to offer free rides to the needy,” he said over phone, rejoiced after being fared in the video.

“I never thought someone would feature me in such a way,” he chuckled, who also works as a newspaper hawker in morning hours. Ravi has been distributing papers at households for last 12 years. His father earned livelihood selling vegetables in Kokar, while mother is a housewife and elder brother is currently hunting for job.

Ravi said that he stopped keeping count of people whom he took to the hospital during the second wave of pandemic but maintained that must be over 100. On how it began, he said, “I wanted to do something for the society. Since I had an auto, I thought, I would extend help to people by ferrying them to hospital free of cost. I posted my number on social media and pasted a poster on my auto asking people to contact me in case of emergency. Soon, I was inundated with calls.”

A screen grab of video on Ravi shared by Union ministry of steel on twitter

On an average, between 250 and 300 calls would flow daily but he couldn’t provide services to everyone owing to his own limitations. “I managed to take anywhere between 6-10  persons to hospitals per day irrespective of the timing. At times, I even spent nights on road carrying people. Taking people to hospital from one place to another took time, therefore, taking providing service to everyone who called wasn’t practically possible. It was always first come, first serve basis,” he said, adding that he run the service during the peak months of pandemic through his own savings.

“Many gave me donations via online transfers from within and outside the state. I got some Rs 96,000 in donation but I returned to all of them. It is because, my intention wasn’t to earn money but to serve. Probably this is why, despite carrying covid infected people, I remained untouched by the virus,” he said.

He also did social work during the first wave too. “Then, beating hunger pangs was the biggest crisis. I delivered food, ration etc free of cost to people,” he said.

Is he hoping anything from the state government? “I would have loved if the district administration or the state government would have at least patted him back so that others like him could get motivated to help the society. Nevertheless, I will continue to do my bit to society in whatever way I can till I am alive,” signed off the young blood.