As there was war-cry for oxygen after massive surge in COVID-19 cases in Delhi, activists like Shariq Hussain came forward to help people amid pandemic providing life-saving oxygen to COVID-19 patients for free of cost.
Hussain, an activist and businessman in Delhi, started providing oxygen to the coronavirus patients since lockdown was announced in the national capital to control the raging virus cases. Since 17 April till 10 May, Hussain provided oxygen to 1800 people and continues offering it for free of cost.
On 17 April through his Facebook account, Hussain announced “If brothers and sister living in Jamia Nagar, Okhla needed oxygen, it will be arranged for them. They can contact me”. He also gave his personal number. After the announcement, the information spread far and wide. Many on social media shared his number informing people about the oxygen availability with him. Since then, he started receiving calls for it.
“I have been working for the first day when the lockdown was imposed and there was acute shortage of oxygen. Since 17 April, I have been receiving phone calls for oxygen. In the morning, it was only two or three phones calls and it rose to 50 phone calls till the evening,” Hussain told Maktoob about his relief works.
Delhi is among the worst affected states when it comes to COVID-19 cases. It has officially reported so far over 16 lakh cases and over 20 thousand deaths.
As shortage of oxygen was widely reported in the media and people started coming at his house for it, Hussain has to arrange the oxygen in the same night. Hussain said since the very first day when he started providing oxygen, 200 or 300 people used to come his house for refilling oxygen.
Hussain has to face a lot of difficulties in arranging oxygen. First, he used to arrange oxygen from Uttar Pradesh but the government in the state banned supply of oxygen from there to other states. Then, he started arranging it from Haryana. The government in Haryana also put a ban on supply of the oxygen to other state. Then, Hussain turned to Himachal Pradesh from where he is currently supplying oxygen.
Hussain feels happy that he could save many lives by providing oxygen but he is also upset that he could not save many covid patients including pregnant wife of one of his friends. She struggled to get a bed but got it in a hospital of Meerut’s Hapur after a lot of searches. However, she was not duly cared there. She died due to lack of good treatment after five days of her admission in the hospital.
Hussain said that he decided to provide oxygen to covid patients because he could not see people suffering and dying around him due to shortage of it.
“The way people were dying and suffering, I could not see it. How can someone remain patient when people are dying in front of him. Humanity is the most important for me. All things fall after that.” he said.
He said people from all communities and different areas came to him for oxygen. People from different parts of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh like Noida, Ghaziabad, Meerut and other places come to him oxygen.
Hussain has been able to do such works with support of his friends and business partners, who worked with him 24 hours to provide oxygen to the needy. He has a team of 25-30 volunteers for the relief works. “In the beginning of 8 or 10 days of relief works, none of them could get time to sleep at night,” he said.
Hussain and His team has been doing relief works while observing fast in the holy month of Ramadan. He said that this has caused immense difficulties in their works. “We faced a lot of difficulties. I cannot tell you about all this. Our work become tough when we work while keeping fast. It’s tough to rush around while observing fast. Even in the night, we had to refill oxygen whole night,” he said.
Apart from working during Ramadan, he faced another difficulty from the government. He alleged that the government levelled baseless allegations against those who are helping people. “This must stop,” he said.
He held state and central government responsible for the devastating situation in Delhi. “The state government has completely failed. So much cases were being reported, they should have remain prepared about it,” he said.
Explaining the reason behind shortage of oxygen, he said “the government has completely failed. In our country, four or five states like Uttar Pradesh, Harayana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand produce oxygen. If these states would properly produce oxygen, we would not have faced its shortage. But these states had made no preparation for it. The second thing is the black-marketing of oxygen, oximeter and medicines. The government could not stop it”.
He said that hate and divisive politics must end. The government needs to focus on healthcare and education. “Election should be fought on these issues,” he said.
Hussain is also distributing ration kits to the needy. He is quite active when it comes to do welfare activities at the difficult times. Last year in March when the Central government announced the strictest lockdown in the entire country in view of Coronavirus, migrant workers were massively suffering. At the time too, Hussain came forward to help people. He distributed ration kits and cocked food across Delhi. He also gave cooked foods to those migrant workers who were walking long distances to reach home.
On being asked about the inspiration for doing such welfare activities, he said he work for humanity.
“For sake of humanity, I think it’s duty to do such works if I’m position to do anything. I also urge my countrymen to stand for each other at the difficult times,” he said.