By Shailesh Yadav
New Delhi [India], October 11 (ANI): Arif Khan, an ambulance driver who ferried hundreds of patients of Covid-19 as well as carrying its victims for their last rites has succumbed to the disease on Saturday at Delhi's Hindu Rao Hospital following months of selfless and unrelenting service during the pandemic.
Khan was on duty since the COVID-19 outbreak and never went home during his duty. He was the ambulance driver with Shaheed Bhagat Singh Seva Dal, an NGO which runs the free ambulance service in the national capital. He was one of the dozen ambulance drivers of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Seva Dal who ferried more than 500 COVID-19 victims for their last rites.
While talking to ANI, Jitender Singh Shunty, president of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Seva Dal, said Arif's demise has left a deep void within the organisation.
"Arif Bhai did a remarkably good job. He used to live here in the hospital so that he can remain available for the job. He worked commendably. On October 1, Aarif developed COVID-19 symptoms. He went to the hospital but came back later. On Friday, we again admitted him to Hindu Rao hospital where he died on Saturday at 8 am. We cremated his body. He has left a deep void that can't be fulfilled. He was a true COVID-19 warrior," Shunty said.
"He worked 24/7 and was very hardworking. His death has broken morale of other drivers," he added.
Shunty said that the organisation will continue to provide its services for the nations.
"All our drivers are COVID-19 warriors. We had 12 ambulances during the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Now we have 16 ambulances. Drivers are ferrying bodies and COVID-19 patients. Our organisation has ferried. So far we have carried out 500 COVID-19 victims bodies for final rites," Shunty said.
"We have performed the final rites of 90 COVID-19 victims as their families were quarantined. We have performed the finals rites of 19 patients whose families have abandoned them. We are always at risk even when we are taking all measures. We will continue our work in the nation's service," he added.
Jitendra Kumar, Arif's colleague and driver with Shaheed Bhagat Singh Seva Dal said, "I am working with this NGO for 25 years. I have ferried over 80 COVID-19 victims. I have ferried over 200 patients to hospitals. We have not received any special help from the government. There is no security for us. One of our colleagues died and his family lives in a rented house. There is no one to look after them now."
Arif's family has appealed to the Delhi government for financial help.
Khan's 22-year-old son, Adil said, "My father was working with Shaheed Bhagat Singh Seva Dal for over 35 years. He left us on Saturday. We live in a rented house here in Shahdara and we did not receive any help from the government. He was the sole earner of the family. The government should help us."
"We just saw him during brief visits to home since March 21 and the last time he came home he was already sick. He used to stay at hospitals after coronavirus outbreak," he added.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday conveyed his condolences to the family members of ambulance driver Aarif Khan.
The Vice President said that the deceased's service symbolises the core of Indian philosophy of 'share and care' and prayed for eternal peace for the departed soul.
"My condolences to the bereaved family members of ambulance driver, Aarif Khan of Delhi. He rendered selfless service by ferrying close to 200 bodies of COVID-19 patients for their last rites. It is saddening to learn that he succumbed to the Coronavirus," Naidu's tweet read.
"His acts of kindness symbolise the core of Indian philosophy of 'share & care'. May his soul rest in eternal peace," he added in a subsequent tweet. (ANI)