The Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic has forced countries worldwide to enforce a lockdown in their territory to prevent the spread of the disease. India has been no different in that regard and a nationwide lockdown was imposed on the 24th of March. An inevitable consequence of it was the global economic crisis, which has hit migrant workers and the poorer sections of the society most devastatingly. Under such circumstances, people from a different section of society have come forward to help them in their time of need. One such organisation is the SinghaBahini, which has been distributing ration in West Bengal in this time of crisis.
OpIndia got in touch with Devdutta Maji, the president of SinghaBahini to learn more about the welfare work he has been carrying out. He told us that the organisation has provided ration to people in 16 districts thus far. SinghaBahini has covered districts such as Darjeeling, North Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Coochbehar, Birbhum, Bankura, Burdwan, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, South 24 Paraganas, North 24 Paraganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Nadi and Kolkata. The organisation is mainly providing raw rations such as rice, dal and flour. He also said that in some areas, the organisation has also providing cooked food.
Devdutta Maji told us that the organisation carries out welfare work throughout the year. The SinghaBahini was founded in October 2018 and has been working ever since. He told us that he is actually a businessman but is more into social activism now. He is also involved in Gharwapsi and during his career in social service, which spans over one and a half-decade, he has also carried out Gharwapsi of numerous people and helped the victims of Love Jihad. Giving us a few examples, Mr Maji told us that he has been taking care of numerous families such as that of Shambhu Regar. The organisation has also provided legal help to the tribals who had gotten into a conflict with local Muslims after the latter had encroached upon tribal territory to offer Namaz. There are around 300 such families that his organization is taking care of. The relief work that the organisation is carrying out during the Coronavirus crisis is completely unrelated to that.
SinghaBahini provides the quantity of rations depending on the area concerned. They provide rations for a minimum of 4 days at a time or a maximum of a month. He said that the organisation will carry out of the relief work during the entire duration of the lockdown. “As long as Maa Kali continues to shower Her blessings on us, we will continue with our work,” he said. Mr Maji also said that the relief work might be extended beyond the lockdown as well depending on the prevailing circumstances. SinghaBahini has been feeding stray dogs as well as there is a chance that they might go hungry as well due to the unavailability of food.
Devdutta Maji told us through an email, “Help has been provided on a priority basis to the poor tribals (vanavasis) in remote corners of Bengal. Emergency help has been extended to poor marginalised sections of the society. Many of them requested that only rice and potatoes be provided. The organisation has also helped accordingly. Among those the organisation helped was also Tapan Dey and his wife. Both are Blind. They have four young Daughters. All are living in a 75 Square Feet room. Tapan sells Candies at the Sealdah Railway Station, Kolkata. Due to the lockdown, he is unable to earn his living. SinghaBahini volunteers provided him with one month of ration for his family. Even our best friends, street dogs have also been helped so that they do not starve.”
He added, “Our Hindu civilization thrives because the most vulnerable in the community believe that come what may they will be taken care by the community. We cannot allow any community member to fall through the cracks. It’s our commitment and duty towards the community and nation. It’s fundamental to our Dharma.” Mr Maji informed us that between the 24th of March and 13th of April, the SinghaBahini has provided rations to over 3000 families. And the relief work has continued since then. By the 3rd of May, the number had crossed 13,000 families. He informed us that within the next few days, the organisation intends to distribute rations among families in Purulia also.
Devdutta Maji told us that while many Christian missionary organisations have reached out to people, the SinghaBahini is among the few Hindu oriented organisations to have done so. He told us that the SinghaBahini is a socioreligious organisation and is strictly apolitical. He also said that those who wish to make a contribution towards the organisation can do so in its bank account.
Devdutta Maji told us that initially, he had intended to help a few poor families only, moved by the distress that had been caused due to the economic crisis caused by the virus. But then, he started receiving calls from many other people from far off places in the state. So, he decided to expand his campaign. Soon, many donors from the United States of America and other parts of the world as well as those in India came forward to help.
The SinghaBahini is one of many Hindu institutions who have contributed to India’s fight against the Wuhan Coronavirus. While a myth has been created that Hindu organisations and Temples do not engage in enough charity, Hindu organisations and institutions continue to work on the ground providing relief to those in distress.