Gurgaon: A bank guard who single-handedly saved Rs.137 crore in a bank from being looted during Haryana's Jat protests deserves the highest gallantry award for civilians, a minister said on Tuesday.
Former soldier Hawa Singh Yadav, 52, was the lone guard at the State Bank of Patiala in Jhajjar when a mob armed with crude bombs tried to storm it and break the strong room on February 21.
Yadav challenged and opened fire thrice at the hundreds of rioters itching to loot public money.
Shouting at the top of his voice from inside the bank, Yadav warned that he had 25 bullets in his rifle and would not let anyone enter the strong room.
Yadav told IANS: "It was a bank holiday that day. I saw miscreants barging in and setting my bike on fire after breaking the main gate. I opened fire when they ignored my warning and tried to break the bank's shutter."
A few crude bombs thrown at the bank exploded a gas cylinder inside, triggering a fire. The attackers left when they realized they could not enter the bank because of Yadav.
Yogesh Kumar, a soldier posted in Jammu and Kashmir and son-in-law of Yadav, told IANS that Hawa Singh called the police control room, fire fighters and civil officials but no one came to his help.
Finally, he called his family members on his mobile before falling unconscious, Kumar said.
The family rushed him to a hospital where doctors said on Tuesday that Yadav was recovering well after having inhaled smoke.
On Tuesday, union Minister of State for Defence Rao Birendra Singh visited Yadav at the hospital here in Civil Lines and praised him profusely.
"Yadav saved more than Rs.137 crore in cash in the strong room and other bank lockers when a mob tried to loot the bank.
"He bravely saved the public money. We will recommend the highest civilian gallantry award for him," Singh said.
Widespread looting and arson took place during nine days when Haryana was paralyzed by Jat protests demanding job quotas. Thirty people were killed in the violence.