Of Human Bonding: Taking a break from their profession, three media persons team-up to feed poor in lockdown
SRINAGAR: Doji Ram of Aligarh had loaded `panipuri’ vessel on his cart when he was asked to return as the lockdown has been imposed in Rajouri town. Shell-shocked, he went home only to be told by his wife that they have limited ration available.
How to feed a family of six was making the 35-year-old restive when there was a knock on the door. `Namaskar’, a team of volunteers greeted Ram and handed over a ration kit before melting away.
“It was a Godsend opportunity. We had exhausted almost everything. Had they not come to our rescue, we may have to go to bed empty stomach,” said Ram, who has been selling panipuri (Gol Gappa) in Rajouri for 15 years.
Since the lockdown started, a group of volunteers has been going door to door in Rajouri town to hand over ration to poor families without any ballyhoo. Led by three local media persons, the volunteers collect the essentials from different people and distribute them among the poor and needy.
“Lockdown was announced suddenly and people were not ready for it. So many people are daily wagers and they were the worst hit by the lockdown. Since we could move around because of being media persons, we thought to utilize this privilege for helping people including non-local laborers,” said Tazeem Dar, one of the three people who started the initiative.
A room at the Masjid Eidgah was converted into a makeshift office cum warehouse. Dar with two of his colleagues, Arif Qureshi and Umar Arshad Malik, went to meet the affluent people for donations.
A mechanism was devised wherein the donors will transfer money directly to a shopkeeper for transparency. “We were buying goods from local shopkeepers. Since some people had pledged to donate, we told them to transfer it directly to the shopkeepers,” he said.
Days passed by and the new volunteers from different faiths joined in for the bigger cause of humanity. “We went to a Shakti flour mill owner. He gave us 300 bags of aata each weighing five kg for free. Similarly, people from other faiths joined in. Interestingly we meet every day at the Masjid Eidgah office,” said Dar.
So far the volunteers have covered 1000 families including 150 migrant laborers and slum dwellers. “There are so many people who live below the poverty line. Migrant laborers from Bihar, UP, Gujarat and other states are working here. After the lockdown, they have nothing to feed their families,” he said.
For the volunteers, Rajouri is the microcosm of secularism and bonding. “Both Hindus and Muslims are working together for providing relief to the needy irrespective of faith or caste,” said Dar.