Unsung heroes of Meghalaya serve policemen, needy amidst coronavirus lockdown

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From a 59-year-old man who cycles over 6 kilometres every day to serve tea to policemen free of charge to an alternative therapist who joined others to serve cooked food to the needy scores of volunteers are serving the people of Meghalaya during the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, staying away from limelight.

Since the Meghalaya government enforced lockdown in the state on March 17, Loknath Khannal, a milkman of Mawsmai village in Ri-Bhoi district, has served over 3,200 cups of tea free of cost to the police personnel posted at the 12th mile check gate on the inter-state border with Assam.

Khannal lives at a distance of over 1.5 kilometres from the checkpoint and he pedals to the check post twice a day.

“I have been serving tea to about 40 persons posted at the checkpoint twice daily – at 6 in the morning and again in the afternoon. In all I serve around 80 cups of tea in a day,” Loknath told PTI.

The milkman, whose 28-year-old son Govind is a sepoy with the Assam Riffles and currently serving in Manipur, said he does it voluntarily and has never taken a rupee from those he served the beverage.

“I find joy and I hope that my son will also be taken care of, no matter from where he is serving the country,” he said.

Like Khannal of Ri-Bhoi, there are many volunteers in state capital Shillong, who are serving food and hot beverages to the personnel battling Covid-19.

There are also others who are reaching out to the needy people of the state that so far reported 12 Covid-19 cases and one of them died.

Senior High Court lawyer Khalid Khan and his wife Ooma, an alternative therapist, have donated over Rs 1,000 to over 100 households each in East Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi districts.

Ooma also joined a team of fellow volunteers including teashop owner Kailash Verma, from a WhatsApp group ‘AdventuRers’, in serving lunch to poor people in and around the state capital and protective gear to health workers.

“Today we are providing 250 face shields to the NEIGRIHMS. My staff and AdventuRers made them here. We are making 200 more,” Verma said.

The NEIGRIHMS is North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, a premier hospital under the Union ministry of health and family welfare.

The Ramakrishna Mission has been distributing rice, daal and oil besides other food items to thousands of residents in the Khasi Jaintia Hills region.

“We are reaching out to the poorest of the poor in these villages. Hundreds of people have benefited from the programme,” a senior RKM official said.

Padmashree awardee newspaper editor Patricia Mukhim and local correspondents of PTI, UNI and The Telegraph also joined hands in providing rice, daal and some cash to nearly 50 families in the Khasi Hills region.

Like them, thousands of volunteers played their part and contributed to the battle against COVID-19, Health Minister A L Hek said.

He said people from all cross-sections of the society and all age groups have donated Rs 5.5 crore so far to the Chief Ministers Relief Fund for the cause.

Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma has congratulated individually to each of those who made their contributions known to him and his office, a CMO official said.

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