Mandeep Dhaliwal, a Canadian resident in Dubai is honoured by Arif Z Lalani, the Canadian Ambassador to the UAE. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A few bravehearts alone cannot save people from death without a divine intervention, according to a Dubai resident who was instrumental in saving six people from a burning plane in Canada.

Mandeep Dhaliwal is humble enough to attribute his bravery to a miraculous intervention appeared in the form of a heavy wind when the small plane crashed on a busy highway in Richmond in British Columbia on October 27, 2011.

“I was at a loss along with scores of others when we saw the plane in flames a few yards away and a heavy wind was intensifying the flames. Then plane’s door was opened and two passengers jumped out of the flames. They were able to do so because the wind was in opposite direction of the door, keeping the flames away from the door,” Dhaliwal told Gulf News.

“Had the wind was blowing along the door’s direction, the two passengers would have never come out and we would never get the courage to approach the burning plane,” said the 32-year-old Indian IT Specialist in Aviation sector, who was on a business trip to Canada when the incident occurred.

Ignoring the intense heat and dense smoke enveloping the aircraft, he and other rescuers entered the plane several times to help pull the injured passengers out.

He was surprised to receive a call after a few months from a Canadian Government official, saying he was nominated for a bravery award. He was again surprised when he was invited to visit Canada to receive the award late in 2012. Six other rescuers were also awarded for their courage in the incident. But Dhaliwal could not visit Canada then, being busy with his works in India. He moved to Dubai in June 2014.

When Arif Z Lalani, the Canadian Ambassador to the UAE, came to know Dhaliwal was living in Dubai, he organised Presentation Ceremony of the Canadian Decoration for Bravery on Saturday at the ambassador’s residence. Lalani presented the award on behalf of David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.

Decorations for Bravery recognise people who risked their lives to try to save or protect another. The Decorations were created by Queen Elizabeth II in 1972. The governor general personally presents the Decorations in ceremonies held at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, or at La Citadelle, in Québec City. They consist of the Cross of Valour, the Star of Courage and the Medal of Bravery.

Lalani said: “ Mr Dhaliwal is a hero. He reflects the essence of the Canadian Governor General’s medal for bravery - helping others simply because they need help and you can offer it. It is a great honour to present the medal to Mr Dhaliwal in the UAE where he lives and works.

Dhaliwal’s humbleness further attributes his bravery to his attire. “Being a Sikh, my turban might have helped others easily recognise me among other rescuers,” he told Gulf News. There were many others who also risked their life, he said. Dhaliwal is working with Flydubai now and his wife Kamalpreet Kaur is a school teacher. The couple has a four-year-old son Nirvaan Singh.

He has not been carried away by the the award and ensuing fame. “Anyone trying to rescue others must ensure their own safety first. I did it because four other friends were also with me. I may do the same. But when we do so, we should take care of our safety too!” Dhaliwal said.