Ex-Ranji cricketer Sanjay Bhatia, friends provide food, funds to migrants on national highway
Ex-Haryana Ranji cricketer Sanjay Bhatia and friends parade national highway amidst lockdown, providing food and funds to migrants leaving New Delhi
While the Indian sporting fraternity, led by some top-notch cricketers have made handsome contributions to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund and to their respective state's relief funds to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic, a former Haryana Ranji Trophy cricketer has been on the road since the 21-day lockdown was announced on March 25, busy helping migrants in the long journey to their villages.
Sanjay Bhatia, 52, who played three first-class matches in the 1990-91 season, and his friends have been manning the Delhi-Faridabad-Mumbai national highway, providing food and even helping people monetarily. "We provided meals, milk, fruits and biscuits. We even gave money [R2000 each] to those who couldn't afford to travel to their villages. It's a combined effort by my friends and family members Vipin Bhatia, Tapinder Bhadana, Dharam Sharma, Sandeep Bhatia, Ram Singh, Ajay Bhatia, Sandeep Sachdeva, Umesh Gaur and Manish Bhatia. We also provided meals to our policemen, who are working day and night to ensure safety of the migrants," Bhatia told mid-day from his base in Faridabad on Thursday.
Migrant workers with family members return to their villages from New Delhi during a nationwide lockdown recently. Pic/PTI
All the expenses have been borne by Bhatia, who is into the business of commercial property construction in Haryana and owns a hotel in Manali (Himachal Pradesh). "I believe that if God has given you, you should help the needy as much as possible. This is a very crucial time to reach out to the poor," he said.
Bhatia, who does social service throughout the year, said he was prepared to help as soon as the lockdown was announced. "The migrant workers or daily wagers were the worst hit. When I asked them why they were leaving for their villages as the journey was exposing them to the Coronavirus, they said that more than the virus, they were worried about what they would eat for the next 21 days. Their plight is painful. They were left to fend for themselves. For the first three to four days, there was no one from the government or from the opposition parties nor any NGO to help out. There was a lot of police on the highway, but what could they do? There were lakhs of people heading to their villages in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. It is only now that the government has swung into action but there is a very small number of people walking back home at the moment. When they really needed the help, there was no one," said Bhatia.
With the government having stepped in to help the migrants, Bhatia and his team have started feeding animals. "For the last two days, we are making sure that stray animals are well fed. Their welfare is important too," said Bhatia.
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