Two youths dived into the Hooghly in Serampore and saved a 55-year-old woman from drowning on Tuesday morning.
Anjana Ghosh had been swept away almost into the middle of the river in high tide when Raja Pal, 18, and his friend Altaf Hossain, 19, heard her desperate cries for help.
They swam towards the woman and managed to hold her hands before dragging her to a boat that had also joined the rescue.
Raja, a plumber and a school dropout, and Hossain were walking along the road by the Hooghly when they heard Ghosh’s screams. “We could see only her hands and realised that the current was dragging her away,” said Hossain, a Class XII student at Serampore High School.
Ghosh had gone to the river for a dip before Lakshmi puja in her house. The woman said she slipped and got swept away by the high tide despite knowing swimming.
Ghosh said she has been bathing in the river every year before Lakshmi puja in Poush (a month in the Bengali calendar). “It is an annual affair,” she said.
On Tuesday, she walked down from her home at Chanditala’s Ugardaha to Nishaan ghat around 10am, close to the bungalow of the sub-divisional officer of Serampore.
However, tragedy struck minutes after she moved down the stairs at the ghat.
“I was struggling to keep myself afloat but the current was too strong. The boys are god-sent and I pray for their wellbeing. I thought I will not live,” she said.
The youths said they regularly swim in the Hooghly and their skills saved a life on Tuesday.
The crew of a boat moored to the bank joined the rescue after they saw the two youths rushing towards a woman in the middle of the river. Ghosh was brought to Chatra Kalibabu ghat, about 1.5km from Nishaan ghat.
She was allowed to go home after doctors at a nearby hospital checked her.
Priyabrata Bakshi, the inspector-in-charge of Serampore police station, said the two youths would be awarded for bravery.