Balvinder Singh Virdi, a Mangaluru resident, was on his way to office on last Saturday when he noticed people struggling to get food at the city railway station. They were unable to tender the exact change following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
Since most ATMs werenâ€™t dispensing cash, and people were facing difficulty in getting money from banks as well, travellers at the Mangalore Central railway station were stuck in a tricky situation.
Ironically, even though some had Rs 2000 notes, they could not buy any food.
Balvinder, who has been living in the city since 2000 and owns a transport business, then thought of serving free food at the station to ease the plight of the people.
He contacted other people in his community and around 20 volunteers came forward to help with organizing a langar (community kitchen where people are served food for free) at the city station.
Speaking about the initiative, Balvinderâ€™s son Prabhjot said, â€śPeople were hungry, and were suffering as there was a currency crunch. We used bank transactions to buy materials as we too could not avail change.â€ť According to Prabhjot, around 2,000 people were served at the langar on Sunday.
However, he added, despite the work being carried out after getting necessary permission from the DRM (Divisional Railway Manager) of Palakkad division, â€śWe were asked to shift to the end of the platform by an RPF (Railway Protection Officer) and his teamâ€ť.
Prabhjot alleged that the official was â€śvery rudeâ€ť and â€śspoke in an insulting manner to my dad and a news reporter who was present thereâ€ť.
The work stopped for a while and the counters were shut, but it resumed after they got clearance from the authorities.
Archana Nayak, another resident of Mangaluru, appreciating the service of the Sikh community wrote on Facebook, â€śActions speak louder than words and here it is. The Sikh Association in Mangalore led by Sri Balwinder Singh Ji is doing all they can to make sure people at the Railway Station don't go hungry because of difficulty with currency... Itâ€™s never too far if we want to make a difference.â€ť
Prabhjot stated that the community is willing to help people in more ways possible to deal with the present situation. He suggests that tents can be made in front of ATMs with long queues so that sunstrokes are prevented, and people can also be offered tea and snacks.
However, he says, â€śWe wish to do all this but have a lack of volunteersâ€ť.