Rajat Sharma

Grossly inhuman: Hoarders of food meant for poor, are a blot on humanity

AKB2610In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Thursday night, we showed visuals of meal packets rotting inside a house in Meerut, and people making prank calls to police in Punjab, Rajasthan and UP to say that they have been starving for several days. When police and local district officials reached the spots, they found the callers having a merry time, consuming biryani and drinking liquor. Needless to say, the police booked all these pranksters.

How can these mischief makers be so inhuman at a time when the deathly clouds of Coronavirus hang over our cities and homes? Millions of poor people are struggling to get two morsels of food every day, standing in queues for hours to get their share of meal packets, and these devils in human clothing, hoard food packets inside their homes, allowing these to rot.

With the nationwide lockdown completing 38 days, there are worries in the minds of policy planners how to feed the millions of poor families who do not have any source of income. Policemen and women are busy preparing rotis and meals for the poor, meals are being packed in the gurdwaras to be distributed among the poor, local officials organizing hunger kitchens to serve the needy, and here we have people who are, to say the least, a blot on the face of humanity.

In Meerut, India TV reporter found rooms full of meal packets rotting. These were collected from hunger kitchens, depriving the needy of their morsel of food. In another house in Meerut, there were rooms full of dozens of bags of atta, pulses and rice hoarded by people, after collecting them from local officials and NGOs, posing as needy and poor.

There was this family in Jalandhar, which rang up the helpline saying it has been starving for several days. When police reached the home with food, they found the family cooking spicy food and having large stocks of wheat, rice and pulses. When police threatened to book the family members, the family members apologized for making the prank call. Police let them off after a warning.

In Bhiwadi, Rajasthan, three young men sent an SOS on Twitter to former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha saying they have been starving for the last 12 days and needed immediate help. Kushwaha took up the matter with the Chief Medical Officer and the district collector. Local DSP, tehsildar and municipal commissioner rushed to Tijari locality and found the three men having a liquor party with sumptuous dishes. Police had to file an FIR against these three young men.

In Sikar, Rajasthan, a distress call went to 181 from a man, Nabi Sher Pathan saying his family has been starving for the last four days. When the local councillor along with police went to his home, Pathan sheepishly admitted that he had make the prank call. An FIR was filed against him.

In Muradnagar near Ghaziabad, a woman made a call on 112 to tell police that she was in dire need of food. When the local councillor along with police reached her home. they found plenty of bags full of atta, rice and pulses, already collected several times by the lady and hoarded inside a room. When asked by police, the lady said she wanted to sell these items to her neighbours.

On one hand we have this bunch of unscrupulous people who have made a business out of poverty, mocking at the hungry millions. And on the other hand we have this huge army of people who are risking their lives to help the poor. These are our religious and social organisations which will win the battle against hunger, come what may. In a vast nation of 1.3 billion people, there may be bad apples like mischievous pranksters and hoarders, but they are mere drops in a sea of humanity. Let’s keep our focus on the people who need food and support.

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