Red Cross takes up new role
Employees of Red Cross are doubling as postmen on humanitarian grounds, writes Sanchita Sharma.india Updated: May 07, 2006 17:07 IST
"I wanted to phone and write, but could not under the circumstances. Gagan and Harman are with me. Please tell everyone we’re fine and ask them not to worry," wrote 19-year-old Mony to his brother Jagjeet Singh living in New Diwana village in Kurukshetra, Haryana.
Mony is an illegal migrant detained in Mukachevo, in Ukraine. The only letter he could send out was not posted but hand-delivered to his brother. By Red Cross volunteers.
Increasingly, Red Cross workers are doubling as postmen on humanitarian grounds.
"Many detainees are not allowed to correspond. The only way they can tell their families that they are alive and well is through an open letter to the Red Cross, which ensures it reaches the person it’s meant for," says Dr SP Agarwal, director general, Indian Red Cross Society.
Mony’s letter was given to a Red Cross worker in Ukraine from where it was sent to the Indian Red Cross Society in New Delhi.
The society then forwarded it to the state headquarters from where it reached the district office. Red Cross workers there ensured it was handed over to Mony’s family.
"We help in tracking missing persons and uniting families in strife-torn areas such as Jammu and Kashmir and the North-east. But over the past few months, we’ve got many letters from illegal migrants from Punjab and Haryana who were arrested in Ukraine while being smuggled to Europe," says Agarwal.
Foreign families, too, get in touch with their loved ones in Indian jails. When Deepa Mahajan wanted to tell her father Dilip, imprisoned in a Bihar jail, that all was well with their family in Kathmandu, she chose the Nepal Red Cross Society to deliver her letter through their counterparts in India.