Referred to as ‘Shavaala’ Shiva, the 27-year-old has over the years helped rescue those who attempted to take their own lives at Hussain Sagar Lake.

Hussain Sagar Lakes unofficial guard has helped save over 100 lives in Hyderabad
news Human interest Friday, June 07, 2019 - 10:47

Not many can afford a house with a picturesque view of the Buddha statue Hyderabad’s Hussain Sagar Lake, but 27-year-old Shiva wakes up every day to this view. Shiva, however, doesn’t live in one of the swanky apartments by the Hussain Sagar. He and his family lead a precarious life on the rooftop of the now closed Lepakshi Handicrafts, under a makeshift tent, bereft of a toilet and, surrounded by junk collected from the lake.  

Shiva, commonly referred as ‘Shavaala’ Shiva (dead body Shiva), is the unofficial guard of the lake, having rescued persons who attempted suicide and also helping the police in retrieving bodies from the lake. He has rescued 107 people over the years.

An orphan, Shiva was raised by Malleshwaramma, who used to sell fruits on the pavement overlooking the Hussain Sagar Lake. Since the age of 15, he has been working as a helper, retrieving bodies from rail tracks. “I don’t recall anything vividly. I must have been six-years-old, I was studying in a hostel in Charminar. Somehow, I escaped from there and Malleshwaramma adopted me,” he recalls.

“I grew up on the pavement. And still continue to be here. This is my address,” says Shiva.

An uncertain future

For his work, putting his life on the line, he has been lauded by many officials from the police and the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). Shiva has been rescuing people and aiding police since 2001. It was tragic death of his younger brother that spurred him to rescue others. “My brother Mahender had drowned in a lake. His loss was unbearable, then I thought that nobody should go through the pain that I went through. So, I started rescuing people who were drowning,” recalls Shiva.

He has since earned quite a reputation for his benevolent service and was interviewed by many regional TV channels and newspapers, who have hailed him. Shiva’s explanation is rather simple, he says, “I wasn’t fortunate with wealth, so at least let me help by rescuing suicide victims.”

While Shiva continues with his regular work hoping for a good tip from relatives of the victims, he is worried about his family and children.

“For the kind of work I do, it requires courage and determination. Earlier I didn’t think much about the future, but now I am thinking about my children and wife. What will they do without me?” this question haunts me, he sulks. Shiva has three children.

Two near-death experiences are the reasons behind his worries. Once while retrieving a body from the lake, a sharp iron rod pierced his chest and shoulder. In another instance, he was admitted in hospital after suffering lung infection due to the toxic water in the lake. The police who avail Shiva's service do not provide him with any safety gear or disinfectants to keep him safe from diseases.

As Shiva is an orphan, he doesn’t have a home of his own, and neither has any ration card to avail any benefits from the government. “I don’t have anything. How will I get ration card if I don’t have a home?”

Acknowledging his services, Shiva was promised a double-bedroom house under the state government’s housing scheme for the poor. However, he is yet to receive it.

“It would be great if the authorities help me in this regard,” he appeals.

Lake police inspector, B Dhanalakshmi who helped Shiva in enrolling his kids in Telangana social welfare school says, “Shiva helps us in retrieving bodies. We help him financially at times. If somebody has jumped into the lake and if Shiva is around we will call him.”

Besides rescuing and retrieving bodies, Shiva collects scrap metal from the lake during Vinayaka Chaturthi for a living. He is now getting opportunities in films too as a junior artist.

“I worked in many Telugu films, including Baahubali series. I am always among the crowd of villains and it is hard to spot me,” he laughs.

Shiva says that the money he makes is not sufficient to run his family.

“The previous DCP of central zone, Kamalasan Reddy made efforts to recruit me in police as a Home Guard understanding my plight but that couldn’t happen because he was transferred shortly after,” he notes.

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