For the people who live in the Irula colony in Chinneri village, Chengalpattu district, the past four days have been the worst. They had lost a huge sum of money to a conman and had no means to find him or to get their money back. However, on Wednesday, thanks to a few good Samaritans, the smiles were back on their faces.
It was on May 16 that 45 persons from the Irula tribes in Chinneri village in Chengalpattu district thought that they had lost it all. A conman, posing as a bank staffer, had siphoned off around Rs 1.35 lakh from the bank accounts of the residents of the Irula colony in Chinneri. They had saved the money over years of doing odd jobs and hardwork. What pained the most was the unfortunate timing of the crime as people are already battling with the COVID-19 crisis and most daily wage workers are struggling to find jobs.
One of the first calls that Selvam, the Village Administrative Officer (VAO) received after TNMâ€™s story was published was from Muthamizh Kalai Vizhi, the Founder and CEO of Neelam Foundation, of which Director-Producer Pa Ranjith is a trustee.
â€śThey called me on Saturday evening and asked me all the details. I sent them the list of people who had lost their money and the amount they had lost. They promised that they would make good the loss suffered by these people,â€ť recollects Selvam.
Muthamizh Kalai Vizhi, who was coordinating with Selvam tells TNM that when Neelam approached its donors with this issue, one of their donors from Bangalore named Jagan, came forward to donate the entire amount.
â€śJagan is a good friend and when he heard about this, he offered to give us the full amount lost by these people. This is also the first time we donated cash to those in need. Usually we donâ€™t do cash donations,â€ť she explains. On Wednesday, Muthamizh visited the village and distributed the money to the people who lost their savings.
Meanwhile, Surekha Pillai, an independent consultant based out of Delhi had also started a crowdfunding and deposited around Rs 2 lakh in the bank accounts of the villagers.
â€śSomething must be done for these villagers with the money in the bank. Something that will last for a long time and add value to their lives,â€ť Selvam adds. The police is also probing the case to find out the people behind the crime based on the complaint filed by Selvam on Saturday.