Former Dakshina Kannada Superintendent of Police (Dec 2000-Feb 2004); First Police Commissioner of Mangaluru after Police Commissionerate was formed in Mangaluru City (Apr 2010- Aug 2012), and DIG & Commander of Anti Naxal Force (ANF) with headquarters at Karkala (May 2013-2015), now IGP (Administration) of DG & IGP Offices, Bengaluru City- Seemant Kumar Singh a SAVIOUR and GOOD SAMARITAN to thousands of Stranded Migrants in Bengaluru and beyond. And the best part was that when his phone number accidentally became a food helpline for migrants-Seemant Kumar became a one-point contact person for distraught migrants even from other states, like Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarath, and Maharashtra
Bangaluru: India knows that among the worst hit during the post COVID nationwide lockdown are the migrant workers who are suffering with loss of jobs, dried up savings to survive and no roofs over their heads. And we have seen thousands of such migrants even in Mangaluru, who were stranded, desperately waiting to go back to their native places. Many have resorted to walking home since no other means of transport is either available or affordable. The lockdown to contain coronavirus has created a grave crisis for underprivileged sections of society as many of them depended on daily wages and had meagre savings, including the migrants from Northern part of India.
It has essentially shut all avenues to a livelihood and now, they are staring at hunger. Government offered meals to many, but with the size of the population and the semi-organised nature of the economy, gaps remain. And it’s during this hour of need that concerned citizens have once again risen to the occasion. Several people have taken it upon themselves to help and feed the hungry, with whatever resources they have or could raise. Many NGO’s and Good Samaritans came forward to help the thousands of stranded migrants in Bengaluru. And among such generous people, who turned out to be a GOOD SAMARITAN and a SAVIOUR to the migrants was Seemanth Kumar, the IGP (Administration) of DG and IGP Offices in Bengaluru City, who also became a one-point contact person for distraught migrants even from other states, like Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarath and Maharashtra, when his phone number accidentally became a food helpline for migrants.
For citizens of Mangaluru, IGP Seemant Kumar Singh is not a stranger, since he had served in various capacities- like being Dakshina Kannada Superintendent of Police (Dec 2000-Feb 2004); First Police Commissioner of Mangaluru after Police Commissionerate was formed in Mangaluru City (Apr 2010- Aug 2012), and Superintendent of Police of Anti Naxal Force with headquarters at Karkala (May 2013-2015). Recently, he was also appointed by the government to take up the post of IGP (Western Range) with Office in Mangaluru, but it was learnt that Singh did not show interest to work in the city again and therefore, the government withdrew his posting.
Seemant Kumar has served in various capacities across the Karnataka State, among which are IGP and Managing Director-Karnataka State Police Housing & Infrastructure of Development Corp Ltd; IGP- Central Range-Bengaluru; IGP and Additional Commissioner of Police Bengaluru East. Hailing from Jharkhand, Seemant Kumar did his schooling in Ranchi; graduate and post graduate degree from Kiror Mal College and st Stephen’s College, Delhi University respectively. In 2014 on Republic Day, he was honoured with President Medal for Meritorious Service, and he had attended the Mid Career Training in United Kingdom. He is married and has one son and a daughter. His hobbies are sports, traveling, social work, and adventure, among other fun things.
“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems” had said Mahatma Gandhi, and Saint Mother Teresa once said, “We cannot do great things on this Earth, Only small things with great love.”- and for that matter, IGP Seemant Kumar Singh, after he was made the nodal officer, in charge of migrant workers from Jharkhand and Bihar in Karnataka, he has gone beyond his limits and became like a life saver to thousands of migrants in Bengaluru, and few other states. He even went beyond his duty ensuring that over 60,000 food kits were distributed, thousands of workers are provided shelter and even transport back to their home states. His humanitarian efforts were helped by various NGO’s, NMC’s, IT Sectors and Generous Donors of in and around Bengaluru. So much so, that Seemanth Kumar became a one-point contact person for distraught migrants even from other states.
Team Mangalorean who learnt about this IPS Officer of 1996 batch, who has credited his entire department for the stellar work in identifying problem areas and providing solutions accordingly, spoke to Seemant Kumar over the phone, where he said, ” I started getting over 100 calls every day after my phone number was accidentally shared as a helpline on WhatsApp groups for migrant labourers in Bihar. Workers who were in distress called me, and I helped them with no hesitation. And they shared my number with their friends and eventually it was shared with the press in Bihar and Jharkhand. It was even published in newspapers as a contact person for migrant workers from those states to reach out to. I used to get over 300-400 calls but thankfully all my officers too sprung into action and we ensured that 60,000 food kits were distributed using the network of city police”.
“Since the lockdown began, we have been providing ration to the migrants and later when the trains resumed service, there has been a mad rush among the migrants to head back to their native places. They would say,’ you have provided us with food and shelter so please ensure we reach home as well. I had to convince them that it won’t happen in one go. Some would listen, some would get desperate and insist we send them that very day. We did the medical screening, gave them train tickets, and even provided them with food for their journey back. One thing I want to say is that there was such a bonding between the migrants and us (police) which is why we avoided a violent situation in Bengaluru.’ added Seemanth Kumar.
He further said, “Surprisingly I even got calls for help from migrants stuck in other states too, like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat from people who were stranded and they thought this was a helpline number when my phone number was shared on social media. Every distress call received, I directed the local police to immediately deliver essentials following which they managed to deliver food with the help of NGOs and other organizations. We used to just take their demands and we coordinated the data and provided ration. The data and numbers also help us in policing going forward. Having two sets of officers here, who took care of outgoing and incoming people, we also have a set of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), and only after we give them NoCs (No Objection Certificates) they can enter. There is a system of home quarantine and institutional quarantine as well. Outgoing flow is more and incoming is more in bordering districts “.
“Hailing from Bihar and settled in Jharkhand, it was a huge advantage for me in handling these migrants, who were mostly from Jharkhand. I even received a phone call from Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, who thanked me for helping migrant workers from his state. He appreciated the Karnataka state government for smoothly handling the process of sending people from Jharkhand back to their state. He asked if there is any other issue and I assured him it is all being sorted at the government level. And he also said, next time you are in Ranchi, you should have a cup of tea with me. Handling the migrants’ situation and helping them in every way I could, was a unique experience that I will never forget. I would like to thank various NGOs, NMC’s, IT Sectors, and generous Donors of Bengaluru and beyond, who made this possible”, concluded Seemant Kumar Singh.
As the nation grapples with the lockdown, these generous people, like Seemant Kumar, and heartwarming stories are perhaps its only redeeming feature. Citizens have praised IGP Seemant’s noble deeds in his own unique way which has set an example for others. It is learnt over 60,000 workers from Jharkhand and over one lakh from Bihar had been registered, and over 1.5 lakh migrants have reached their respective states, by trains from Bengaluru and other nearby districts. Trains have been lined up to send over one lakh more migrants over the next few days. And IGP Seemanth along with his colleagues and NGO’s/IT firms is doing his best to make arrangements for their travel and food.
In conclusion, quoting Saint Mother Teresa “If you judge people, you have no time to love them. Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. It’s not how much we give or help but how much love we put into giving and helping someone. At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in”. A life not lived for others is not a life. Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin”, and that’s exactly an IPS Officer did. Kudos to IGP Seemant Kumar Singh, whose profession is to protect the citizens, he has gone beyond his duty/capacities in helping those human beings in need, thereby making a difference!
The joy of being able to help someone in need and to make them smile is priceless. The satisfaction that comes from making a difference in the lives of others cannot be overstated. Knowing that you have helped make someone else’s life a little brighter and better is a special feeling, and one that will last with you for a long time. And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy. To IGP Seemant Kumar Singh, Team Mangalorean extends heartfelt appreciation for his humanitarian work and selfless efforts in caring and loving the migrants.
I end this column with a thought-provoking poem on migrants written by our very own Mangalorean Prof Maria Phyllis D’Costa, the Director Uxcel-the Institute of Excellence, Mangaluru-
“I weep to see you my countrymen, On foot moving on for miles, famished, foolish, Ready to tear into bits anything that comes your way! You bear burdens, trudge, trod weary, To reach the land of hope, The place of your birth and bread! Ye fake onlookers, spilling words of pity? Who wants them? I’m famished and faint. And you, you add to my misery! Woe to you, onlookers, Indians without a soul You have my pictures on Whatsapp? You click your tongues. Does that give relief? My countrymen?
You want my votes? You want to win? You did! What did we gain? This walk to death and desolation? You ride, drive, and fly. Watch me go by, die. You sigh, I cry! Why? Oh, why? Was I born to die? This wretchedly? Stop pitying me, Leave me alone with my long caravan of the weary! Martyrs of my free land!
Just walk, just walk, I say. Soles can have holes! Hearts have lost sensation! Bleed with hope. I will reach home! If I don’t and die with my babe sucking at my breast, I’ll cry ruin but repair my tongue. To forgive? Will I? You flung words of sympathy. Clicked your tongues at the pictures you saw! Gave me a packet of raw rice, Fanta, and ghee. To drive away melancholy! You, you, and you! If you have eyes that feel, And read my misery. You will bhaiyon and bheno. Send wheels for me, To roll into eternity!