Good Samaritans build night shelters for homeless in Agra

While official agencies have been dragging their feet citing resource crunch for not being able to provide shelters, voluntary groups like Sri Nathji Nishulk Jal Sewa, Ganesh Sewa and Madhavi Sewa have risen to the occasion.

Shelter from the cold: The new night shelters give the homeless a roof and a blanket to keep warm. Pic/IANS

The homeless got a new refuge on Sunday to escape the biting cold. The first ‘raen basera’ (night shelter) was opened by the Sri Nathji Nishulk Jal Sewa on MG Road near Subhash Park.

The shelter, the first among dozens of such temporary residences the organisation plans to open in the city, offers a bed, quilt and the warmth of a bonfire to the inmates.

“Concern for such basic needs of common people has rarely ever bothered our decision-makers. But service for the common man, in any form, is the true religion,” said MC Gupta, a physician widely known and respected in Agra.

“Every winter, we open a dozen such raen baseras at busy road crossings or outside stations or bus stands, to provide free stay for the night with quilts and beds. A bonfire is lit outside to keep inmates warm, said Bankey Lal Maheshwari, chief of Sri Nathji Nishulk Jal Sewa.

“Earlier, we used to distribute free blankets. But we found that the blankets were later resold in the market. About 10 years ago, we started opening shelters and found them more useful for the homeless.”

Surendra Sharma of Hotel Goverdhan added, “Ask a person who has no shelter in this biting cold. For him anything is good enough.”

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