The world has become an increasingly violent place and every death that makes the headlines serves as a daily reminder of human fragility. One such story of bravery and selflessness was that of fireman Rajendra Bhojane who on the 31st of December succumbed to a 21-day battle against third degree burns. Three weeks earlier — on the 10th – Bhojane had been called out on a task to free a crow that was trapped in electrical wires at Mahalaxmi Racecourse in Ambedkar Nagar.
He and two other colleagues were in the process of trying to detangle the wires with a stick when it came in contact with a high tension wire and electrocuted all three of them. The other two firemen, Sanjay Kalbhere and Dinesh Sabankar suffered 30 per cent burns and are still recovering but Bhojane bore the brunt of the damage and sustained burns on 60 per cent of his body. The three were rushed to Wockhardt Hospital and were later transferred to intensive care at the National Burns Unit in Navi Mumbai.
Bhojane was survived by his wife and two daughters, he was the sole breadwinner of the family and was also supporting his mother and sister who live in Thane. The compensation and facilities provided to the families of Indian firemen have always been lacking and this incident has really brought that issue to light. “When a senior officer dies while saving people, he is declared a martyr. But when a fireman dies saving lives of other people, no respect is given to them,” said Baba Kadam, a member of the firemen’s association.
Bhojane’s family initially refused to claim his body until he was bestowed with a similar title and BJP leader Ashish Shelar promised to take up the issue with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. On Sunday he given an official guard of honour at their headquarters in Byculla before his body was taken to his hometown in Ahmednagar for last rites. His family have been promised adequate compensation and jobs for his next of kin. In addition to this, the members of his brigade — Batch 696, have unanimously started a fundraiser on Ketto to make sure their teammate’s family is taken care of in these trying times. This is not the first time a member of the fire brigade has fallen victim to this type of tragedy and perhaps this should serve as a wake-up call about the safety standards provided for the men and women risking their lives for their city.
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