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Unsung, tens of Morbi youth of local fishing community saved many, many lives

By Rajiv Shah 

It was indeed a treat to listen to Bhavik Raja, who spoke at a meeting of the Movement for Secular Democracy the other day in Ahmedabad. Speaking in chaste Gujarati, Raja recalled his childhood days in Mobi when he and his friends would often go to the town's Jhulto Pul (Hanging Bridge) in free time. I listened to him online.
The bridge, which should have been given a heritage status, was handed over to the owners of a watch-making tycoon for repair. The repair was carried out so shoddily that it broke down in less than a week after it was opened for general public, leading to the death of more than 140 persons, many of them children.
Raja, who formed a group of three-person activists' team on a fact-finding mission to Mobi, said, what isn't taken note of is how tens of youth, belonging to the local Muslim fishing community, jumped into the river and saved many, many lives. It's a marshy river, and to navigate in there is an extremely difficult exercise.
Acording to Raja, the disaster management team came only on the next day, while these youth, without thinking about anything, jumped in the river immediately after the disaster struck the bridge at around 6:30 pm on October 30. Had these youth, so far unsung, not done this, the death toll would have been much higher.
One only needs to listen to what Raja said during his 15 minute intervention -- provided, of course, you know Gujarati. He compared the Morbi youths' herculean task with the way Kashmiri youth faced a flood disaster that struck Jammu & Kashmir years ago. The youthful spirit is inspiring, whether Morbi or J&K, he added.

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