Meet Jaisalmer’s police constable whose viral videos of battling fire are doing the rounds
On the night of October 7 when the market at Nachna erupted in flames, Devendra Singh lept right in with nothing more than a wet gunny sack wrapped around him from protection, and saved both lives and property of shop owners.
Kuldeep Chhangani 16 Oct 2023 10:43 AM GMT
Nachna (Jaisalmer), Rajasthan
The cuffs of his trousers rolled up, his feet dangerously exposed to the licks of fire in nothing more than chappals and his face blackened with soot, 30-year-old police constable (driver) Devendra Singh was no less than an armour-clad warrior.
Last week, on October 7, at about 11.30 pm, three shops and a godown at a market place at Nachna, over 120 kilometres from Jaisalmer, went up in flames. The financial losses were considerable as merchandise in the shops that included a tyre shop were consumed in the inferno.
Had it not been for Devendra Singh’s courage to risk his own life to save other people and their property, the incident at Nachna could have turned into a big tragedy. For his brave act, the police constable has been lauded by both the state police force and the politicians. He is a hero for the local people.
“The sight of Devendra Singh leaping right in with nothing more than a wet gunny sack wrapped around him from protection, was some sight,” Dheeraj Chandam, a 24-year-old grain trader, told Gaon Connection.
Chandam has a grain store in the Nachna market. His store and a godown next door both had caught fire. “I lost half of the grains, but had it not been for Devendra Singh, everything would have burnt to a cinder,” he said.
For Badri Prasad Suthar, a farm equipment dealer at Nachna market, the police constable is a messiah.
“Devendra Singh broke open the door of the shop, went in and began to haul products from inside the shop, and also helped by dousing the flames with water from the pipes,” Suthar recounted. His shop was destroyed in the fire and he lost to the tune of Rs eight lakh.
“But had it not been for constable Devendra Singh, the losses could have shot up to Rs 50 lakh,” a grateful Suthar told Gaon Connection.
But for the police force of Nachna and an army camp that was there, the fire could have been a lot more devastating, the onlookers at the fire said.
Recounting the fateful night, police constable Devendra Singh said: “I was only doing my duty. We got the information about the fire a little after midnight and along with Ajit Singh, the Station House Officer of Nachna, the police team reached the market.”
“My focus was on stemming the wave of fire from spreading to the godowns at the back of the market. Some of these godowns had bamboos in them and I knew that if they caught fire, the flames could reach the residential areas nearby,” Devendra Singh told Gaon Connection.
The police constable knew there was no time to wait and watch.
“Though there are more than 20 villages in the sub-tehsil of Nachna, there is no fire brigade in the vicinity. The nearest is at Pokhran and by the time the fire engine reaches this area, everything would be burnt to the ground,” local journalist Damodar Bhargav, told Gaon Connection.
And this is exactly what happened on the fateful night. “By the time the fire brigade reached the location, so much damage had already been done,” he added.
Despite his heroic act, Devendra Singh remains humble. “It was a duty my colleagues and I were carrying out. But someone took a video and photographs of me fighting the fire and that is how the news went viral,” he said.
In fact, the constable’s wife Manu, who lives in Pokhran, learnt of what he did from the social media.
“When I first saw his photograph on social media I was terrified. He had left for Ramgarh on duty and there was no network there and I could not speak to him. I was relieved when he finally called me to tell me he was safe,” Manu told Gaon Connection.
The 28-year-old said she felt a sense of pride whenever spoke of his brave and courageous acts during the fire.
Along with Devendra Singh were Mularam, the assistant sub-inspector, and head constables Arjun Ram, Khima Ram, Dalu Ram, constables Wali Mohammad, Buddha Ram, Naresh Kumar and Ashok Kumar. The commanding officer of the Combat Engineering Training Camp at Nachna, Lalit Kumar Sharma had sent a water tank along with some jawans to put out the fire.
Vasundhara Raje Scindia, the former chief minister of Rajasthan; Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union cabinet minister at the Ministry of Jal Shakti; Shaleh Mohammad, the state minority affairs minister, and others have lauded the police constable on X (formerly Twitter).
“I am extremely proud of Devendra Singh and the entire police team who showed exceptional courage and did their duty with such promptness,” Ajit Singh, the SHO of the Nachna Police Station, told Gaon Connection.