Karmi, in her seventies, is unable to see and has no one to look after her. After her husband passed away, she has been living all by herself in village Bhadurpur in Balachaur subdivision. Her days before the contagion hit were spent sitting outside her small village house and interacting with passers-by. But since the lockdown, she has been fenced inside.
Gurmit Singh, another septuagenarian from Langroya village in the same subdivision, faces the same situation. He lives alone and has no one to look after him.
In village Khanpur Kullewal, an octogenarian couple — Parsini and her husband Gian Chand — are dependent on their two married daughters. But with lockdown keeping them away, they too have no one to fall back upon.
While 10.3 per cent of the state’s total population is elderly requiring special care during the pandemic, Nawanshahr police is going the extra distance to ensure that they are not left to fend for themselves during this crisis.
As part of their ‘Helping Hands’ service with aid of NGOs, the district police first identifies elderly living alone in villages with help of panchayats and then sends a cop over to their place to make a list of all their needs and ensure delivery.
This doorstep service covers essentials like food, dry ration, medicines, phone recharge service, gas cylinders among other things. Till date, 57 such elderly have been identified and extended all possible support in different villages of the district.
Thanking the police official who visited her, Karmi told The Indian Express: “Ik Policewala munda aya cee, puttar banke jisne mainu ration, dawai te apna phone number vi dita ki main jad chawan usnu phone kar sakdi han (A cop came to visit and like a son gave me ration, medicine, and his phone number. He said that I can call him any time for anything I need).”
“I was feeling all alone. But that is not the case anymore as policemen are taking care of us and asking our well being daily,” said Gurmeet Singh.
Constable Balwinder Singh is one of the policemen who have been visiting these elderly. He said: “Like them, there are thousands of elderly people across Punjab who are feeling all alone as the world battles COVID-19. It is much tougher for the old people who are physically handicapped, have no one close to look after them and are living all alone. After locating these elderly people we are providing them both cooked, and dry ration and also meeting the needs for their medicines. We also give them a contact number on which they can call us any time for any help and we are also contacting them several times a day to know their well being.”
Nawanshahr SSP Alka Meena said that the details about such elderly and other needy persons is collected through passport verification officers and DSP Rajkumar has been appointed as a nodal officer for this initiative. She added that these elderly either have no one to look after them or their children are settled abroad and they are living all alone here.“We have taken up the responsibility of these elderly so that they do not feel alone and unwanted,” she said, adding that along with providing support, the police is also educating them about maintaining hygiene and providing soap and sanitisers too.
She said that ‘Helping Hands’ initiative was being supported through donations of several citizens, including police officials. Apart from this, police is also helping with cremations of coronavirus casualties through this initiative.
Nearly 6,700 ration kits, according to police, have been distributed under ‘No One Sleeps Hungry” programme, which is also being executed under the umbrella of Helping Hands initiative.
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