Muslim scrap dealer Irfan Sheikh was first to rescue Fadnavis from crashed chopper
When a chopper carrying Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and five others came crashing down here on Thursday afternoon, the first person to rush to the rescue was small-time scrap dealer Irfan Shaikh, who shouted "Our king (CM) is trapped in the chopper".
While Shaikh ran towards the chopper to rescue those inside, some others nearby ran away from the aircraft, fearing it might explode.
The chopper came hurtling down from a height of nearly 80 feet in a thick cloud of dust, accompanied by some flashes of light and a loud booming sound.
While others bolted from the chopper, the 28-year-old Shaikh - unmindful of the risk, ran towards the craft to see how he could help the people stuck inside.
"The copter door was jammed and could not be opened... I pushed it but it didn't budge... The Chief Minister then responded by pushing it from inside... Then I managed to force it open from outside... I offered my hand to the CM and helped him step down," Shaikh told a local mediaperson, Govind Ingle of Lokmat Group.
A shaken Fadnavis told Shaikh that he was "fit and ok", and asked him to help the pilots and others on board the chopper even as he walked a few steps away.
Officials of the Chief Minister's Office in Mumbai confirmed the developments on Friday, but declined to say whether Fadnavis would felicitate or honour the scrap dealer for rushing to assist them at a critical time, as the chopper could have exploded.
Later, Fadnavis told people that it was the "blessings of the 12-crore people of Maharashtra and Jai Bhavani" which helped him and five others survive the crash.