For Delhi's destitutes, he is the last hope
In dark streets, he appears as a beacon of hope to those left for dead. He takes drug overdose and accident victims to hospital and gives the dead the dignity of a decent end - all this simply because, once an addict himself, he knows what it is to be one of them. Jatin Anand reports.delhi Updated: Aug 12, 2013 02:40 IST
In dark streets, every night, he appears as a beacon of hope to those left for dead. He takes drug overdose and accident victims to hospital and gives the dead the dignity of a decent end - all this simply because, once an addict himself, he knows what it is to be one of them.
Khushi Ram, 52, a resident of north Delhi's Mori Gate, repairs metallic shop shutters by day. But by night, he becomes a messiah and walks a 4-km radius that reports more than one-fifth of the total number of dead bodies recovered across Delhi annually.
As per Delhi Police records, he has taken 34 unclaimed dead bodies to the Bara Hindu Rao Hospital between April 2008 and October 2012. Eight more were wheeled in just in the nick of time.
"Though I don't have the papers to prove it, I've helped 60 people in four years," he says, "But there's a long way to go before I can say I've fulfilled the promise I made to my father."
On a winter night in 2005, Ram's father was livid after he found him vomiting in a drain with a needle in his arm.
"He told me he was ashamed of me - I wasn't the son he had. Those words made me turn my life around. I promised him I'd change and help clean the streets in whatever way I can."
After a year at a rehab centre, a different Khushi Ram returned to the streets. According to locals, he's a godsend.
"Given the staff crunch, whatever help we get from the public is invaluable. Sometimes, the only difference between a fresh accident victim and an unidentified dead body is a minute's delay. Khushi Ram has helped tilt that balance for the better at least half a dozen times," said an official from the local police station.
The state government's public grievances cell has also instructed the Delhi Police's vigilance department to help Khushi Ram in whatever way possible.
According to Delhi Police records, 1,808 dead bodies were found in different parts of the Capital till August 9 this year, with 374 of these being found in the north Delhi district. As many as 147 were discovered in the Kashmere Gate area.