Aluva: When the River Periyar swelled in August to inundate Aluva and the other places on its banks, a veteran assumed the role of a saviour. A 48-year-old classic Willys Jeep was the first responder on the Aluva suburb as water flooded houses.
Ranjith Babu, an auto enthusiast and the secretary of the Kerala Adventure Sports Club, drove his trusted jeep around to transport dozens of people to safety even before soldiers and fishermen reached the flooded area on their boats.
Babu's house at Thaikkattukara was also flooded. But he went on a rescue mission nevertheless. The Jeep with only three seats carried up to 10 people at a time, he said.
People were sitting on the bonnet and clinging on to the pipes on the flank, he said.
Babu was not alone. At least 40 jeeps that belonged to the members of the club were in action in various parts of Kerala.
Babu's jeep can be driven through four feet of water. He takes out his possession for mud races often. He is the winner of the Goa Rain Forest Challenge and the Mahindra Club Challenge. He went on saving people from the Chembakassery until water seeped into the engine.
He had spent Rs 10 lakh on the 1970 model jeep to prepare it for offroading. The jeep has extra safety features designed to protect the passengers even if it topples.