Fifty-eight year old Mayadevi had come to Mathura with her niece, seventeen-year-old Jyoti, and eleven-year-old granddaughter, Tanu. Hailing from faraway Alwar in Rajasthan they had come to take a holy dip in the river Yamuna on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya, an auspicious Hindu festival in the month of June last year.
Jyoti was swept away by an underwater current and Mayadevi and Tanu tried to pull her out of the water. But they were also sucked into the current. Watching from the banks, Hotilal, the son of a local boatman, rushed into the water and pulled out Tanu and the much heavier Mayadevi in turns. Jyoti had already drowned and sadly, Mayadevi could not be saved.
Even Hotilal’s father, Jairam Mallah, is aghast at his son’s act of bravery. “Hotilal can barely manage to change his own clothes let alone attend school. We have to help him even to put on clothes. I really do not know how he did it,” said Mallah.
“My son is very brave and wants to study. But there are no schools for children like him near my house and he is suffering as a result,” said Mallah. Speaking on the occasion, his family said that the local authorities had still not given him a disability certificate.