Published: 08th April 2020
A nomadic boy called this Kochi policeman and asked for food. What he did next will surprise you
The nomads in Kerala do not have access to the free provisions that the government supplies through the PDS. Which is why what this SI did was particularly heartwarming
Policeman T R Gills was getting ready to go to work on Monday morning when his phone rang. On the other end of the phone was Darshan, a 12-year-old nomad, whose family lived on the riverbank in the same locality. "We are out of rice, tomatoes and sugar. There is nothing to eat," said Darshan.
In an ideal situation, this is unlikely in Kerala, a state that distributes free ration to all of its residents through the Public Distribution System. However, a ration card is a mandate to get provisions under this. "Darshan's is a nomadic family that hails from Mysuru. They spend their time in Kerala when there is no rain. During the rainy season, they migrate to other parts of the country. There is absolutely no way for them to get these provisions," says Gills, who is a Sub Inspector in the Puthenvelikkara Police Station in Kochi. "The family used to earn its daily bread by fishing in the river. Since the lockdown, they live in utter poverty and have no money to buy food," he says.
Right after taking Darshan's desperate call for help, Gills knew that something had to be done, despite him being short of money at that point. "I called up a friend of mine, who immediately agreed to help. He bought rice, sugar and a lot of other provisions, sufficient for the family to survive on for the next few days," he says. Gills, along with the other police officers, delivered the groceries to the family. Even though the Kerala government provides free food through its community kitchens, Gills says that the family is not used to the kind of food distributed there.
There are eight members in Darshan's family, including his parents Muthu and Renuka and his five siblings. While some of these children attended a government school nearby a few months ago, the older children helped their father fish in the river. "The father and the oldest son have been stranded on the other side of the coast since the lockdown was implemented," says Gills. "The family has no house. They live in a temporary shed and mostly sleep under a tree, on the ground," he adds.
Did the police officers also deliver sanitisers and soap to the family, we sought. But Gill's answer to that was rather grim. "Their living conditions aren't hygienic at all. They defecate in the open and are not used to using soaps and sanitisers. So, in the current scenario, what we could do was ensure that they have access to food," he says.
What was it that prompted these police officers to go beyond their duty's call and help out this nomad family? "This is exactly what police officers must do in this time of crisis," says Gills. "We are educating and sensitising the public on the virus and the necessity of a lockdown. Also, we don't have to deal with crime anymore. People have more important things to do than doing wrong," he says.