Bengaluru’s auto driver goes the extra mile to ferry poor

At 69, Abdul Majeed K Soudagar is among people the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, but service is still on top of his mind.

May 24, 2020

BENGALURU: At 69, Abdul Majeed K Soudagar is among people the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, but service is still on top of his mind.

Ignoring the risk to his health and his family, Soudagar, a resident of Bengaluru’s Neelasandra suburb, provides free transportation to the ill and the poor to hospitals in his auto rickshaw day and night.

When the lockdown was announced, he convinced his wife, a TB patient, and their two children that staying at home wouldn’t be right when so many poor people struggle to find transport.

“I approached police who granted me permission to ferry unwell persons from their homes to hospitals and back,” explained the Muslim man, who gets at least five calls a day since the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25.

He spoke to The Times of India on May 12 on the Jayamahal Main Road on as he headed to take a woman cancer patient in RT Nagar to Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology.

Recognizing his generous gesture, someone at Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases donated him a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit which includes cap, goggles and gloves, early May. He has already ferried more than 50 passengers from across the city to various hospitals.

“I take all precautions. I don’t transport Covid-19 patients as they have other options. I focus on poor people who don’t have many alternatives in the time of the lockdown. When patients call me for ride, the only thing I ask them is to carry their medical records to show them to police on the way,” he says.

He also gets calls from the police control room to help patients in distress.

Soudagar, a diploma holder in computer science, worked as an IT professional 18 years ago before switching to DTP for his livelihood.

“I started making projects for engineering students, took typewriting work and later worked on Word and Excel for professionals and book translators. I became an auto rickshaw driver last year to find an additional income,” says Soudagar, who is well versed in English, Kannada, Hindi and Urdu. The social media-savvy driver is active on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

So, how does he manage finances? “Some friends and well-wishers contribute for the cause. I’m not asking for more,” says Soudagar who’s observing Ramzan fast during the day.--Matters India

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