Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Nayantara N| The News Minute | November 11, 2014 | 11.35 pm IST In a city like Bengaluru, hiring an auto in an arduous task – either they refuse to ply or they charge exorbitant amount. But this man in Yadgiri district, Karnataka, has been providing free service to all pregnant women for the last eight years. A die-hard fan of actor Shankar Nag, Mallikharjun Itekar has been inspired by Nag’s roles as a rickshaw driver. In fact, he is popularly known as ‘Sangliana’, another movie of the late actor. His prized possession, the auto, is decked with the Shankar Nag posters and dialogues. What’s more, the two even share their birthdays – November 9. “As a child I used to watch his movies. His good work in the movies encouraged me. Ever since, I had decided that I would be engaged in some social work to keep alive his memory. He is my role model,” he said. An incident in his younger days further reinforced him in his motive. “My sister was suffering from serious medical problem. It was late in the night and I had no vehicle nor was there any available. I had to run two kilometres in either direction to seek help. That incident moved me so much, that I decided to buy an auto and help those in emergencies.” Having dropped out of school after 7th standard, Sangliana says he has helped over 2,000 pregnant women in the last eight years. Having taken a loan to run his auto, he is available 24 hours to ferry pregnant women free of charge. In fact, two women even delivered babies in his auto on the way to the hospital. “It was around 1 am in the night and a lady was suffering from labour pain. They could not find an auto at that time, but a little boy accompanying her dialled my number and explained the situation. I rushed to take her to the hospital, but she delivered on the way” he recollects. His phone number is displayed on his auto so that people can contact him for emergencies. Read- The man who still is every Karnataka auto driver's hero: Happy 60th birthday Shankar Nag He refuses to take financial support from the government or philanthropists. His generous service has earned him wide-spread recognition and often felicitated at the local functions. His three sisters often express concern over his health and safety, but his old mother is quick to dismiss their fears and raises his spirits.  “I receive tremendous love and affection from people. Even the government doctors and nurses appreciate my work. People are poor and cannot afford even an auto ride at times. I want to help people in need and die peacefully. Ultimately, it all about humanity, he says. Hope our dear Bengaluru auto drivers learn a thing or two from him.
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