Touching story: Thane Police ensure blind student gets to college safely every day

After the 20-year-old complained to the joint commissioner of police about the challenges he faced in getting to college every day, a traffic constable was assigned to take him to college and back every day

As 20-year-old visually challenged student Shivam Patil makes his daily journey to his Thane college, he is accompanied by his guardian angel in khaki — the traffic constable who ferries him between home and college on his motorcycle every day.

Constable Zuber Shamsuddin Tamboli ferries 20-year-old visually challenged student Shivam Bahusaheb Patil between college and home every day on his motorcycle, and ensures that he reaches the campus safely. Pics/Sameer Markande
Constable Zuber Shamsuddin Tamboli ferries 20-year-old visually challenged student Shivam Bahusaheb Patil between college and home every day on his motorcycle, and ensures that he reaches the campus safely. Pics/Sameer Markande

The story of how Shivam got this unusual travel buddy is a heart-warming instance of how the police can sometimes go out of its way to help citizens.

It all started with a complaint — Shivam, an SYJC student at the Joshi-Bedekar institute, was finding it tough to commute to his college ever since Thane Joint Commissioner of Police VV Lakshmi Narayana banned illegal private buses in November. When these buses were plying, he could board one near his house at Vijay Garden road and go all the way to Thane station (his college is located nearby) for a mere Rs 10-15.

“I used to board the bus in front of my house and was dropped near college. There were five drivers whom I knew and were always helpful,” recalled Shivam.

But when this facility was stripped from him, he had only two other options: he could either use the Thane Municipal Transport buses or the more expensive auto rickshaws.

“Auto drivers would often overcharge me. Every day, I would end up spending around R400 travelling to and from college. On the other hand, the frequency of municipal buses was not good. Moreover, the bus stop is about half a kilometre away from my house, and there is a highway in between, which is very dangerous for me to cross,” said Shivam.

But when he called the police control room to complain about the inconvenience, the officials told him to call the Thane traffic police. A cynic would assume that the police would simply shrug shoulders and say it was not their problem, but the Thane control room patiently explained that the private buses had been taken off the roads because they were illegal and Joint CP Lakshmi Narayana had taken action against them.

The cops went a step further and gave Shivam the personal mobile number of Lakshmi Narayana. “I narrated my problem to the Jt CP and asked him to allow the bus service again, as it was the only affordable option for me. He refused, but then told me that he would do something to solve my problem and get back to me soon,” added Shivam.

Lakshmi Narayana kept his word. He informed Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Rashmi Karandikar about Shivam’s problem and asked her to take care of him. Accordingly, a traffic constable attached with the Kasarvadavli unit was assigned the job of picking up and dropping Shivam every day.

Constable companion
Constable Zuber Shamsuddin Tamboli (28) takes great pride in having been assigned the job, and has been helping Shivam for the past 45 days.

“Senior Police Inspector Shreekant Shonde from the Kasarvadavli traffic unit, assigned me the job, and I am happy to do it. So far, I have solved a kidnapping case and have worked with the traffic department for more than two years and also did a lot of bandobast duty for VIPs, but I find this duty priceless,” said Tamboli.

He added, “I realised he was special the very first day I met him. I picked him up at 8.45 am, and we were riding on my motorcycle when he said he could tell we had reached Majiwada junction because he could smell watermelon. That junction is actually famous for watermelon vendors, so I was surprised.” Tamboli said even his wife was proud that he had been assigned this duty, even though she had complained about his long hours in the past. “On January 10, it was my son, Ahaan’s birthday. I took my wife and son to meet Shivam, and after meeting him and seeing his talent, my wife started crying. She finally appreciates the work I do, and says she will no longer get angry if I come home late.”

A grateful Shivam said, “There is a common perception among the citizens that the police are our enemies. But if we try to understand them, we will learn that they are human beings too, and can be our friends. Not only do we sleep safely because of them, in my case, the constable helps me go to college every day, even though this is not the job of the police.”

Youth fights for Braille library
Thane could very well get its first Braille library thanks to Shivam, who approached his college administration demanding that a Braille section be set up in the library so that blind students can also read. Shivam also encouraged several other visually challenged students to enrol for college, and some day, wants to be a teacher himself.

Shivam meets outgoing Joint CP
On Jt CP VV Lakshmi Narayana’s last day in office yesterday, several well-wishers turned up to meet him. Among them was young Shivam, who met the Jt CP for the first time. Lakshmi Narayana has been transferred as Additional Director General of Police (Administration) and will be replaced as Jt CP by Ashutosh Dumbre.

Recently transferred Thane Joint CP VV Lakshmi Narayana
Recently transferred Thane Joint CP VV Lakshmi Narayana

Shivam thanked him for all his help and gifted the policeman a pen and two star brooches. “Such policemen do good work for the public. When they are transferred, the common man suffers in the end,” said the 20-year-old. “The boy approached us with his complaint about the inconvenience he was facing, so, we arranged for a police constable to drop him to school and back. I try to help each person who visits me with a problem,” said Lakshmi Narayana.

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