An autorikshaw driver from the South Indian state of Kerala was honoured at Al Naser Leisureland this weekend.
Mohammed Rafeeq PP turned a star overnight and became a role model for three-wheel drivers when he returned a bag-full of gold ornaments worth atleast half-a-million Indian rupee to its rightful owner.
Rafeeq told 'Emirates 24|7' that he is "just one of 5,000 autorikshaw drivers in Calicut city. I feel honoured to be invited to the UAE and to be given a public reception and reward following media reports about my honesty and integrity. Most of the autorikshaw drivers in my city are honest."
Recalling the incident on March 18, Rafeeq said: "Two ladies and a gentlemen booked my three-wheeler from the city to the railway station. I left them at the station and took another passenger and departed. After half an hour, I noticed a bag left in the back seat. When I opened it, it was full of gold ornaments, which would be worth minimum half-a-million Indian rupees. I decided to go back to the railway station and hand over the gold to the lady. I know that they were in Calicut in connection with a marriage programme. When I went back to the railway station, I found the lady crying and appealing for help with many people assembled around her. She was carrying about 30 tholas of gold.
“When I handed over the jewllery bag, she was so happy. I knew they could not buy another set of jewllery at the current market price. My integrity did not allow me to keep that gold, which belonged to someone else.”
Hailing from a poor family, Rafeeq earns between Rs300 to Rs500 per day (Dh25 to Dh45 per day) and supports his family which includes two sisters and mother.
The public programme was organised by the Kozhikkodu District Pravasi Association (KDPA-UAE) on Friday at the Al Naser Leisureland.
Various associations, clubs and the mayor of the city have already honoured him back home.
Venkat Mohan, President, KDPA, UAE said the driver was selected for the award by a special committee along with many other prominent businessmen and VIPs.
Sumesh Govind, a hotelier from Calicut running Paragon Restaurants in UAE; KV Zakhir Hussain, Managing Director, Swadeshi Group of Companies (President of Calicut Rotary Club and winner of Nehru Peace Prize); and NE Balakrishna Marar, who established TSB Books in Calicut were also honoured.