| CRPF personnel rescue priests of the Swaminarayan sect from their hostel in Hariyala, 40 km from Ahmedabad. (AFP)
Ahmedabad, July 2: “This could be my last call. Floodwaters have begun entering our train. I love you'”
As his wife’s voice trailed off, mill owner Rajesh Seth decided on one last attempt at Mission Impossible.
Taking his Toyota Qualis out of the garage in Ahmedabad, he drove it through 80 km of surging floodwaters ' a task he had tried and given up the day before ' to Dakor station, where the Indore-Gandhinagar Shanti Express had been stuck since Thursday.
He was the first man in the state to reach the train ' ahead of the official apparatus ' among whose 400 passengers were his wife Abha and daughter.
Seth’s act of bravery inspired the passengers to get over their fears and wade in the chest-deep water around the train and the station to reach a safer place.
Seth, who had been in touch with his wife on her mobile throughout the ordeal, said the drive had been scary. “For about a km, I could see no road. I drove in five-foot-deep water.”
He reached the station around 4 pm yesterday despite local people telling him not to risk his life. The train was on the second track.
He jumped into a coach, a basket of bread and bananas in hand, with a shout of “jai Mata di” and told the passengers he had come to rescue them. As he distributed the food, he kept telling everyone: “Don’t worry, I’ll take you all to Ahmedabad.”
Upbeat after two days of despair, the passengers managed to convince people nearby to get their cars out and help them reach Ahmedabad.
Troops in motorboats, too, played saviour, rescuing 350 children from their school in Harup, 75 km from here.