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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

‘His dream was to ensure best education for our kids’

Family of civil defence volunteer who died of Covid gets Rs 1 crore from Delhi govt; son wants to follow in his footsteps

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi | Published: July 26, 2020 3:57:34 am
‘His dream was to ensure best education for our kids’ Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with the family of Arun Kumar Singh on Saturday. (PTI)

After Arun Kumar Singh, a 48-year-old civil defence volunteer, died of Covid on July 13, his family was worried about crippling debt because of hospital bills, and the future of his two children — a son in Class IX and a daughter who just cleared Class XII.

On Saturday evening, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the family to pay homage to Singh, and also handed over two cheques — one to his wife and another to his father. The total amount was Rs 1 crore.

“He did and saw many things in life, but his only unaccomplished dream was to educate his children. The day our daughter’s board results came out, he passed away… we could not even inform him that she passed with flying colours,” his wife Indu said.

For the last few months, Singh had been toiling for hours everyday, handing over packets of food along serpentine queues. On April 20, he worked through the day, but stayed on through the evening and single-handedly managed food at short notice for over 1,000 labourers stranded at Sector 25, Dwarka, the project site of a construction company.

His daughter Anjali (18) said, “He wanted me to go into civil services. And I want to make that dream a reality. My plan is to study B.Sc Agriculture from Delhi University and then prepare for civil services.”

Indu said that from the compensation received, she wants to ensure her children are well educated, just like their father hoped. Their son wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and work in civil defence.

Outside Singh’s residence in Rajapuri, Kejriwal said, “Civil defence volunteers work day in and day out to help others. Arun was one of them. Sadly, he contracted coronavirus while doing his job. I have spoken to the family and assured them that we will help them in any way possible. I told them not to compromise on the education of his children.”

After the CM left, the family recalled how Arun put others first. His eldest brother, Sudarshan Singh (60), said, “He helped anyone he could… For months, he fed thousands.”

His wife said: “When he started displaying Covid symptoms, he did not come close to anyone. He was coughing but he still took the bike alone and went to the dispensary to get a test done. Then he got admitted to the nearest hospital himself when the test came back on July 5; he did not want to infect anyone else.”

“When we saw him on a video call days before his death, he asked about us and barely spoke about himself. He was always there for people, but when he needed us, none of us could be physically there for him.”

The active civil defence volunteers attached with the Delhi government, numbering around 13,000, take home around Rs 18,000 a month. “He was among our most valuable staffers. He put in extraordinary efforts. Singh excelled at any and every task we entrusted him with. Be it distribution of food at the hunger points or work inside containment zones, he gave his 100 per cent,” Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Dwarka) Chander Shekhar had earlier said.

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