“I used to see this thin and ailing man (Rai) who could not even stand up on his own at the footpath, while going to college to attend my lectures. Some passersby would give him biscuits or vada-pav; but no one really had the time to properly help this homeless man,” said the college student, Emmuna Philip, a New Panvel resident.
On seeing that the young student was closely observing his situation, the homeless man gestured with his hand to help him if she can.
“He could barely speak, but told me his full name and that he is from Delhi, and for a while also stayed in Kolkata. Some of the other street vendors also gathered at the spot and told me that he is sitting here like this for over two years, without getting any proper aid,” said Emmuna, who then called her father, Pastor K M Philip who is the founder of Social and Evangelical Association for Love (SEAL) Ashram in New Panvel.
The chief patron of SEAL, Abraham Mathai, who is the former head of state minorities commission, then called up Emmuna and advised her to go to Azad Maidan police station to get the mandatory police letter in order to take the homeless man to a hospital.
“The Azad Maidan police officials, API Poonam Jadhav and PSI Nitin Chaudhari, were very cooperative in order to shift Rai to the MGM hospital in Kamothe. But I had to skip my college classes that day (November 30) in order to complete the formalities to take the homeless man to hospital,” she added.
Pastor Philip of SEAL commented: “In the last two years, hundreds of citizens including government officials, students and other office-goers, must have seen the pathetic situation of Rai at this footpath. However, either the people do not have the time to help someone, even though they want to, or they just do not care. The fast paced city life does make its denizens hard; however, there is still some hope as long as just a handful of city of angels still work in our midst.”
Philip further stated that while SEAL had admitted the homeless man to the hospital, his condition was not very good, as he had respiratory issues and also suffered from septic shock. “Rai was moved to the ICU and also put on a ventilator, but he died on December 8. If he had been rescued a few months earlier, perhaps he may have lived,” he said.
Emmuna informed that they still do not know the whereabouts about his family. “However, Rai was cremated at Amardham in Panvel. We are hopeful that after seeing the media reports, his family members may get in touch with SEAL. Rai had also told the SEAL volunteers that earlier he was admitted to Bombay Hospital, but he could not elaborate further,” she said.