Tinsukia: The city is shut, except for a few grocery shops and pharmacies here. The streets are silent on the fourth day of the country-wide lockdown.
As a journalist, I have been following painful stories of poor migrant workers being forced to march to their villages from cities. No prospects, no food and growing desperation; many started their long march full of uncertainly. I was witness to one sight that shook me right here in my hometown of Tinsukia.
On Saturday, as I stepped out of my home to report, I was horrified to see a person, who seemed to be mentally challenged looking for food in a garbage bin of the civic body near SKF Police Point in Chirwapatty locality. He may have been hungry for days.
The misery, moved a traffic constable nearby. Krishna Dutta tried to tell him to go to a nearby police station where they had arranged for food for the poor and needy but this person seemed to understand nothing. He was madly scrambling through the empty packets, hoping to find something to eat.
In the meantime, I sent a WhatsApp message to deputy commissioner of Tinsukia, Bhaskar Pegu, with a picture and a “request” to help such persons. I thought it is my responsibility as a citizen.
I rushed home, asked my wife to pack some food for him. We (this time with my wife Manisha) ran back to the garbage bin, it must have taken us a few minutes, alas he had disappeared
“I lost him,” my soul told me in despair.
I took my motorcycle and launched a search – crisscrossing the four lanes with the food packet but no luck!
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I went back to traffic constable Dutta and asked him if he had seen the person. “He was here Just now. I bought a packet of biscuit but now he is gone,” he replied.
We handed the food packet to Dutta in case the person returned.
Till yesterday, I watched poor suffer on TV channels and social media. Today, I happened right before my own eyes and there was little I could do for my fellow human in need. I felt helpless.
I have informed the DC who has the responsibility of the entire district and have appealed to all citizens to please take care of such people. Please do look out for them they might be hungry for days.
These are testing times not just for the government alone, but for mankind.
…And while we fight a collective war against coronavirus, don’t forget to look out for those suffering. While you are in lockdown the hungry might be standing right outside your door.