Srinivas also provides a free ambulance service for the poor and cremates unclaimed dead bodies with his own money.

Meet Srinivas For 25 years now he has been providing relief to Secunderabads destitute
news Human Interest Saturday, December 23, 2017 - 18:21

As you walk past Padma Rao Nagar Park, Secunderabad, it is hard to miss the giant banner of M Srinivas Gupta. Smaller versions of this poster can be seen in Gandhi and Osmania General Hospitals – these posters not only have his image, but also his contact number.

M Srinivas Gupta is a well-recognized face, not because of the posters, but because of his acts of charity.

For 25 years now, Srinivas has been helping the destitute and the elderly in the city – taking them to hospital for treatment and check-ups, and cremating them after they pass away. He now even has a free ambulance service for the poor.

Gopal Krishna, a constable from Chilakalguda police station, says, “I have been seeing him for the past 10 years now. He is very well known for his services. All of us in the police admire his dedication and the devotion with which he serves the poor. We can call him whenever we have an unclaimed body and he will pay out of his pocket to perform their last rites.

The police in Secunderabad officially recognised him as a social worker and gave him a certificate for the same – something he always carries in his pocket all the time.

I tried setting up a meeting with Srinivas many times, but some emergency or the other forced him to cancel it. When we finally managed to meet, his phone buzzed constantly – calls and messages from doctors, nurses, police inspectors … Almost as soon as we sit down to chat, he receives a call from the Begumpet police – an elderly woman was found infested with worms.

He cleans the wounds on the body himself. “I know what it is like to be poor. I grew up in the clutches of dire poverty and I know the pain of starvation and the despair that comes with being poor. I would gatecrash marriages and functions in my neighbourhood in the hope of finding a meal. But I would always get turned away because they could see I did not belong based on my attire.”

Srinivas’ mother passed away when he was just 3 months old.

His first brush with helping the poor was in 1992, when he was in Class 7. “A man collapsed in Monda market. We tried sprinkling water on him, but he didn’t regain consciousness. So I took him to Gandhi Hospital in a push cart.”

He pauses, then says nonchalantly, “I haven’t saved any money for myself. All the money I have saved through the purchase and sale of vehicles, I have spent it all on the poor. I believe that because I have helped so many people, someone will help me in my time of need.”

Srinivas’ full-time job is to provide aid and relief to the poor. He makes a marginal amount in the form of commission when he buys and sells vehicles, old and new.  

He doesn’t receive any donations for his work. When he really needs help, he receives monetary support from his close friends.

“I don’t have any relatives. I only have a few friends who help me. I don’t regret the fact that I am not on good terms with my relatives. I’m happy with my work. At time, I wonder. Since I don’t have any savings, will someone cremate me when my time comes? This question haunts me quite often and I don’t yet have an answer for it.”

The ambulance service started five months ago after Ranga Reddy Collector, M Raghunandan Rao, gifted him the vehicle. Prior to this, he used to hire autos to help him shift people to the hospitals.

Srinivas is a popular figure around his home, and several have felicitated him for his work. But he is conscious of his image being used for political gains.

“I abstain from political ties. I want to be an independent person. I don’t want my work to be politicised,” he says, as his phone buzzes – another emergency has arisen and Srinivas must go to help those in need. 

 

 

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