Updated: August 13, 2021 9:18:26 pm
(Written by Akshara Srivastava)
Neeraj Gupta, Neeraj Dhiman, and Neeraj Katal were among the almost 500 Neerajs at Paharganj’s Sita Ram Diwan Chand enjoying free chole bhature on Friday.
In honour of Neeraj Chopra’s historic win at the Tokyo Olympics, the renowned eatery had announced a treat for his namesakes. “He has made the country proud and we wanted to celebrate that,” said Puneet Kohli, owner of Diwan Chand.
Neeraj Dhiman said he got to know of the offer through social media: “I really enjoyed the food.”
People had to show a photo ID proof before availing the free meal. “While some came alone, some came with families and friends. There were also many who came with IDs of their relatives named Neeraj and had to be turned away,” said Kohli.
As shutters rose at 8 am, people started trickling in. By the middle of the day, crowds grew and the eatery managed to sell out chole bhature worth Rs 40,000 by 3.30 pm. Neeraj Sharma from Gurgaon and Neeraj Saxena from Ghaziabad were among those who found themselves out of luck – by the time they reached at 4 pm, the food had run out.
“The nation has given us so much; this is our way of giving back. I had seen in the movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, when Milkha Singh asked the prime minister to announce a government holiday in honour of his win at the Commonwealth Games. And we wanted to do something in that spirit for Neeraj Chopra. I’m sure it will reach him and he will feel good about how people got free food in Delhi because of him,” said Kohli, the third generation from his family to run the business.
Offering freebies for customers is not new here. Kohli’s grandfather would let people eat for free if they had no money, and kulfis and soft drinks are still free for children. During the second Covid wave, the eatery delivered free food to patients.
Kohli said a police officer from the Paharganj station had enquired about the safety measures in place since many people would gather, and was assured proper arrangements had been made.
In a similar vein, a petrol pump in Gujarat’s Bharuch district had offered free petrol up to Rs 501 to all people named Neeraj. The Girnar ropeway service management in Junagadh also announced free rides for all people named Neeraj till August 20.
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