For the past 1,419 days, Hyderabad-based Azhar Maqsusi has been feeding people for free outside the state-run Gandhi Hospital in the city. Azhar, a known face in the city, runs an initiative called 'hunger has no religion'.
However, on Wednesday, Azhar says that the local police warned him against continuing his activities and allegedly issued a challan to him.
While he started his initiative under the Dabeerpura flyover in old city in 2012, Azhar has since started an NGO called ' Sani Welfare Foundation' and the initiative has spread across the country in places like Bengaluru, Guwahati, Raichur and Tandur. He also feeds people on the road near Gandhi Hospital everyday, at around 2:30 pm.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Azhar said, "We indeed feed people on the side of the road but we keep the place neat and tidy when we go. We conduct this initiative outside because the hospital management doesn't allow us to feed poor people within their premises. There is no traffic disturbance or any issue to anyone else. We request you to please not let this initiative close."
Azhar also tagged the Hyderabad Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, TRS Working President KT Rama Rao and Minister of State for Home Affairs Kishan Reddy.
Several people tweeted in his support, pointing out that he had been doing this work for several years, and requested the police not to close down the initiative.
Speaking to TNM, Azhar said, "The police are saying that a lot of public is gathering at the spot. But if one seeks to feed the hungry, then of course, hungry people will line up. They are all poor people who have come from across Telangana for treatment at Gandhi Hospital. We even clean up after ourselves."
Asked if he will continue the initiative, Azhar adds, "Yes, we will go. There are many youngsters who have gotten motivated and are doing this work. If something happens to us, then the others will lose their courage. Hunger is a big issue in India and we are trying to address this, in a small way that we can. Is that really wrong?"
Speaking to TNM, the police said that while they supported Azhar's initiative to feed the poor, it had been resulting in law and order issues.
"It is an accident-prone area as several vehicles use that route. As it is on the main road, there is also traffic congestion. People have started lining up almost until the Gandhi Hospital Metro station. Many intoxicated persons are also taking advantage of this and are causing a ruckus in the area. We have witnessed fights as well," says SI B Raju Naik from the Chilkalguda Police Station.
"We have no objections. We are even ready to support the initiative, just not on the road. The attendants of patients sit under a shed inside the hospital. We asked him to talk to the hospital's Superintendent and feed the people there. Even we are ready to talk to the hospital," he adds.
Pointing out that the issue had also come to the notice of the ACP. the Sub Inspector added, "We warned him from the past one week. Even I'm a public servant, and I'm accountable to the people to take action. That is why I filed a petty case on Wednesday."