The tradition of serving free food outside gate number 2 of the PGIMER will not come to an end, as Jagdish Lal Ahuja, popularly known as the ‘Baba’ who distributes free food, has decided to change his mind and will carry on with the langar “till his last breath”.
He told HT that people started offering him financial help after Hindustan Times published a story, “PGI’s free food ‘baba’ to stop langar from January 21”.
“Following the story, I received several calls from people saying not to stop the free food service. Many came forward to meet me as well. They requested me to not stop the langar and assured that they would help me,” he said.
Ahuja added, “I have decided that my langar will not end, ever. In case I will require any financial help, I will contact one person I know. But the langar will not stop.”
Earlier, Ahuja had said that on January 21, when the langar will complete 15 years, he will stop the tradition of serving free food. The reason he gave was his ailing health.
On January 21, 2001, Ahuja first organised a langar outside the PGI’s gate number 2. Since then, he has been serving food to hundreds of poor people outside the PGIMER and Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, without a single pause. The old man has sold seven of his properties worth several crores to fund the langar. A similar situation of ending the langar also arose last year, but then he sold his property to fund the langar.
Along with the food, Ahuja also distributes free shawls, blankets, sweaters and shoes to the needy during winters.
Jagdish Lal Ahuja was born in Peshawar, (presently in Pakistan), and came to Patiala after the Partition in 1947. He was only 12 when he started selling candies to earn living. In 1956, he, along with his family, shifted to Chandigarh. He started selling bananas and soon came to be known as the ‘Banana King’.