On April 15, Hitesh Sharma (23), a civil services aspirant in Ahmedabad, received a distress call from his uncle based in Kishangarh near Ajmer of Rajasthan. The call was about Sharma’s 14-year-old cousin Arpit, who suffers from autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), as his stock of medicines had run out and these were not available in chemist shops of Kishangarh and Ajmer.
According to Sharma, the fear of his cousin going into relapse without proper medication was imminent.
“My cousin needs tablets of Quetiapine Fumarate 200 mg and Oxcarbazepine (Lovax) 300 mg on a daily basis. These are schedule H drugs that are not available without prescription. Every month, he travels from Ajmer to Ahmedabad for his visitation to doctor. His prescriptions are kept at my place in Ahmedabad. Initially, we had thought that the lockdown will end by April 14 but it got extended and my cousin ran out of medicines. There were chances that he might get unstable due to his condition,” said Sharma.
Being an aspirant of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Sharma claims that he is an avid reader of The Indian Express and it was in this paper that he came across a story four days ago which gave him an idea.
“A few days ago, I had read a story of how the Indian railways managed to provide skimmed camel milk to a mother in Mumbai whose child was suffering from autism. I went back to that article and I found the web link http://www.parcel.indianrail.gov.in,” said Sharma.
The Indian Express correspondent Abha Goradia had reported on April 12, how a parcel train running from Ludhiana to Bandra Terminus procured 20 litres of camel milk for a Mumbai-based woman who had taken to Twitter to appeal for his three-and-a-half-year-old child who suffers from autism and food allergies.
Using the web link, Sharma contacted the railway officials of Ahmedabad division of Western Railways who then called him to their office. Sharma claimed that he purchased at least a month’s supply of medicines using the doctor’s prescription and reached the railway office in Ahmedabad on April 15 evening.
“The railways officials assured me that they will do whatever they can to help my cousin. I handed them the medicines on Wednesday evening. Next morning (April 16) around 10 am, I received a call from my uncle that the medicines have reached Ajmer railway station and he is on his way to get them. I never thought that the administration could be this citizen friendly,” said Sharma.
The officials of Ahmedabad division of Western Railways claimed that they used a parcel train which was travelling from Ahmedabad to Delhi to make a last minute courier order to Ajmer railway station.
“Even during lockdown, the services of Indian Railways’ parcel trains which transport essentials and other commodities do not stop. The student had approached us saying that it was an urgent situation and we asked him to hand over the medicines to us. We checked if there was any parcel train headed towards Ajmer route and we found one on the Ahmedabad-Delhi route scheduled for Thursday morning,” said Ashish Ujlayan, assistant commercial manager, Ahmedabad division, Western Railways.
“We keep a track of people who send us requests on Twitter or other social media platforms. Although it’s not possible to comply with each request, we do make exceptions for urgent needs and try to help the citizens in crisis time as much as we can,” said Deepak Jha, Ahmedabad Divisional Railway Manager, Western Railways.
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