New Delhi: A watchman from Mumbai who left for Jammu and Kashmir on a cycle to be with his critically ill father four days ago has finally received some help from the authorities.
Mohammed Arif (36), who works as a guard at Libra Tower in Mumbai’s Bandra West area, said that on reaching Gujarat, the state police offered him help and put him in a truck that will take him ahead on his journey.
When CNN-News18 spoke to him on Sunday morning, Arif said he has reached the Gujarat-Rajasthan border. “I cycled all night. I received multiple calls from officers who were discouraging me from going forward because of the lockdown but I was determined," he said.
"This morning, Gujarat police personnel put me on a truck and also gave me food to eat," he added.
Meanwhile, officers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) went to Arif’s home in Rajouri district and took his father, who suffered a stroke recently, to the district hospital under its Madadgaar initiative.
"His father's condition is serious. Some tests and procedures will be carried out on Sunday. If required, we will shift him to the Narayana Hospital in Katra," Special DG (CRPF) Zulfikar Hasan told CNN-News18.
It was reported on Saturday how Arif, after being informed about his father’s condition, desperately started looking for means to reach home.
Not being able to find a way out amid the lockdown that is in place in view of the coronavirus pandemic, Arif bought a fellow watchman’s cycle for Rs 500 and started an ardous journey back home.
“I have to see my father, even if that means cycling all the way home," Arif told CNN-News18 on Friday. He may have had to pedal for about 2100km had he not received help.
On Saturday, he said only grocery shops were open along the way and he was surviving on biscuits and water. Officials told CNN-News18 the lockdown made it difficult for them to help Arif complete his journey.
"Without a curfew pass it will be difficult for him. One of our CRPF Madadgar boys is from his village. So we tried telling him that we will take care of your father. You don't travel further, but he wasn't convinced," Hassan said.
Arif might reach Lakhanpur -- the entry point to Jammu from Punjab side -- on Sunday, but there are additional problems because of the lockdown.
The administration has made 14-days quarantine mandatory for anyone who is entering from Lakhanpur, which is about four hours from Rajouri.
Officials are hoping to convince Arif to stay there while they take care of the medical needs of his father. Arif, however, says his father may be on his deathbed and he wants to meet him once.
In a statement, the CRPF said, “Arif is a resident of Panjgrain village situated along LOC in Rajouri district. He works in Mumbai as a watchman and his family, consisting of his father (Wazir Hussain), wife and two children, lives in Rajouri. On April 1, Arif came to know that his father has suffered a stroke and is in a critical condition. He wanted to meet his father but there were no means of transport. A distraught Aarif left from Mumbai for Rajouri on April 2 on a bicycle. A news report on this amazing journey came to notice of CRPF.”
“The CRPF Madadgaar got into touch with Arif. The 72 Battalion of the CRPF located about 15km from Arif's village in Rajouri, sent a team to his house. The patient was put into contact with the CRPF panel of doctors through the Madadgaar Telemedicine Scheme. The doctors after diagnosis recommended immediate hospitalisation. The team shifted Hussain to the hospital where he is under treatment and CRPF Doctors are in regular touch with the doctors at the district hospital of Rajouri."