Kolkata: The Maharashtra government has come to the rescue of a 28-year old Mumbai resident by issuing him a special pass to drive close to 2,300 km, cutting across three states, and reach Kolkata to attend his father’s last rites.
Lawyer Anindya Roy has lived in Mumbai’s Parel since October 2018. Originally from Dum Dum in North 24-Parganas in Bengal, he had been following all rules of social distancing amid the three-week nationwide lockdown to halt the spread of Covid-19.
But a phone call from his mother, Kanta Roy, on Thursday morning brought in the news of his father’s demise and put him in a dilemma about travelling when there are strict restrictions on public movement and all domestic flights in the country have been suspended.
Ashish Kumar Roy, 61, was a practising advocate at the Calcutta High Court. He died of cardiac arrest early on Thursday.
Left with no options, Anindya Roy narrated his ordeal on social media and urged people to help him reach his hometown by road — a distance of 2,158.4 km. He was then asked to get in touch with Maharashtra Transport Commissioner Shekhar Channe.
Roy called up his family in Kolkata and asked them to send across his father’s death certificate over email as well as WhatsApp. He forwarded the documents to Channe and spoke to him and narrated his problem. Within minutes, Channe issued a special pass enabling Roy to travel through Maharashtra.
“Channe told me I would not face any problem in Maharashtra while covering the distance by car but he was not sure if Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha governments would allow him to travel," Roy said. "But the pass issued by him through Maharashtra came as a saviour. I will never forget his help and support in this time of crisis.”
Roy and his friend Vikash Ojha started the journey from Mumbai on Wednesday around 3pm and entered Chhattisgarh on Friday morning.
“The police stopped our car at the Chhattisgarh border and we told them our story. We showed them the permission letter issued by the Maharashtra Transport Commissioner. They inspected the letter and politely allowed us to continue the journey. They were humble and helpful,” Roy said over phone.
Asked how the two managed the treacherous terrain and the dangerous jungle route in Chhattisgarh where highway robberies and threats from Maoists are frequently reported, Roy said the roads were empty and it was pitch dark. Roy said he and his friend have been taking time to sleep in the car at night.
“There were neither any hotels or lodges on the highway nor were food stalls open due to the lockdown. Before starting from Mumbai, we loaded enough food items and water for our entire journey,” he said.
Roy is expected to reach Jharkhand by 7pm on Friday, where he will rest at Ojha’s house in Ranchi. Roy will continue the rest of the journey alone and hopes to reach his house in Purbosinthi area, close to Dum Dum railway station, on the same day.
His mother Kanta Roy said she spoke to her son in the morning and is "desperate to see him in this crisis".
Former Calcutta Bar Association President Uttam Majumder said Roy's father, who was a former secretary there, was very close to him. "It’s a personal loss for usI would like to thank all state administrations who are helping his son reach Kolkata by road,” he said.