A distress call from a desperate migrant labourer asking for food for her and 17 others moved a woman IPS officer, who rustled up lemon rice for them in a jiffy in the dead of night.
Tired after a day of hard work, B Raja Kumari, Vizianagaram Superintendent of Police, was about to retire for the night when she noticed a missed call on her mobile.
"I saw a missed call on my mobile phone. I called back and a lady in a feeble voice requested me to help them get some food and water. I enquired with my colleagues if some food can be arranged, but they said it was not possible at that hour," she said.
Some of them then offered to get the migrants bread, but Raja Kumari felt it would not satiate their hunger.
"So I cooked lemon rice for them. That was the best I could do because that is the dish any person can prepare at short notice," Raja Kumari told PTI.
Mamata, a native of Vizianagaram, her husband and the others, had walked and hitched a ride for about 700 km from Nellore, where they were employed as construction labourers.
The COVID-19 induced lockdown left them with no jobs and cash and in desperation, they decided to make the marathon trip on foot. Weak and exhausted after not having eaten on Tuesday, she made the call for help for the group.
Mamata informed the SP that they were stopped at a check post about 25 km from the town and were starving. By the time the SP prepared the food and took it there at 1.30 am, the group had been sent to quarantine camps, while others who had gathered there, prepared for the onward tiring journey into the district.
Undeterred, Raja Kumari took the food to the quarantine camp set up by the government, where Mamata and some of her group were lodged and fed them.
"At first I wondered how this woman got hold of my mobile number. When I asked her, she said one of her relatives found out and gave it to her," the SP said. The group somehow reached Vizianagaram district by different means of transport and also by walk.
Raja Kumari said that the district administration, with the help of sponsors, has been offering food and water for the migrants. The state government has also started offering free bus rides to the state borders for migrants walking to their native places. As many as 7,000 people are currently in about 75 quarantine centres in the district, she said.
One person died of coronavirus in Andhra Pradesh and 68 fresh cases were confirmed on Wednesday, taking the total number of infections in the state to 2,557.
The lone death was reported in Kurnool, taking the toll in the state to 53. The number of active patients is now at 715.