Anupam Agarwal
Anupam Agarwal
File photo

BHOPAL: The normally bustling streets of the state capital were disconcertingly quiet from end-March to end-June last year. A stealthy and silent killer was creeping across the world. The entire country was under lockdown to keep that invisible enemy out of the door. And Bhopal was no exception. All shops were shut. Vehicles were out of the thoroughfares. A nightly silence descended on the city in the day time. The nights breathed out eeriness. The sights of that time etched on the memory of Anupam Agarwal are grim.

As getting a morsel of food was difficult for the poor, many of them had to hit the hay on an empty stomach. That made general secretary of Thok Vyapari Sangh, Agarwal to swing into action.

“No. Nobody should go to bed hungry,” Agarwal thought. He then began to distribute flour, rice, oil, pulses, salt and other essential commodities. But soon, he realised it was just a drop in the ocean.

That failed to deter Agarwal who decided to seek the help of his trader friends. He appealed to all businessmen to feed the hungry. Wonder it worked. Help began to pour in from every nook and cranny of the state. The traders began to work in coordination with the administration of every district. Agarwal took it upon himself to see that everyone gets food.

He says without the grace of God he could not have done that. All his friends responded to his appeal and benevolently contributed to supply food to the needy.

Agarwal who also arranged vehicles for distribution of groceries was at a phone’s call away even at nights and never lost his cool; never sought publicity. Agarwal says the ideological barriers flattened and everyone worked together. As a result of his appeal, the traders in other cities like Indore, Gwalior, Jabalpur and other districts generously helped those who were in need.

He worked in every nook in the state capital. Despite being busy, Agarwal never fell short of following the corona protocols. He appealed to others to maintain cleanliness as much as possible to keep the virus at bay. He visited the newly developed colonies, the slums and the construction sites where people had to bear the brunt of the lockdown.

The traders’ associations of different markets in the state capital, too, plunged into action after Agarwal’s appeal. The traders of Jumerati, GoddaNakkas and Hanumanganj began to work as one unit. Besides that, Agarwal advised the traders to cooperate with the administration. He worked almost round the clock throughout the corona-induced lockdown.

Agarwal says occasionally he had to rush to the spots where groceries were being distributed at midnight to handle a critical situation. That never bothered him. He slept a sound sleep only after the lockdown was lifted. And the people heaved a sigh of relief. He says, “I relied on my friends. They did everything to help the needy. I shall never forget them for their trust in me.”

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