Saturday, February 10, 2001

A salute to Sahara Jan Sewa
By Chander Parkash

THE dedication with which the volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa in Bathinda look after the sick and injured ostracised by society and neglected by their kith and kin is both moving and laudable.

Patients being treated at a makeshift hospital set up by the Sahara Jan Sewa in BathindaOne’s faith in humanity is restored watching the volunteers treat the wounds of the injured left to their fate by their near and dear ones, feed the mentally retarded, clean the faeces of sick and mad persons roaming in the lanes and bylanes of this town and donate blood for accident victims.

Shunning the barriers of caste, creed and religion, the volunteers start their day by dressing the wounds of the injured and feeding the beggars of the town. In between, they make rounds of the town, providing medical care to the needy.

The organisation took birth 12 years ago when a young man named Vijay Goel took out money from his pocket to cremate an unclaimed body in the town. The authorities concerned had refused to fulfil their duty. That day in 1989 the foundation stone of Sahara Jan Sewa was laid.


After forming the Sahara Welfare Club, Vijay devoted himself to the service of mankind. Braving all odds, including paucity of funds, Vijay gathered an army of volunteers who promised to do anything to save precious lives. Such devotion and sincerity cannot be expected by even those who get paid for such tasks.

So far, the Sahara Jan Sewa has cremated about 2400 unclaimed bodies, treated more than 15,000 patients, arranged marriages of about 100 poor girls, helped in tracing more than 200 lost children and collected more than 3200 units of blood.

The volunteers are so devoted that they do not mind the risks involved in treating patients suffering from AIDS or TB. The volunteers showed commitment to their mission while serving the patients of plague a few years ago. Till date, they have treated more than 1000 patients suffering from TB. The volunteers are also running a make-shift hospital, keeping the sick in tents.

With four ambulances, mobile phones, motor cycles and other modes of transportation at their disposal, the volunteers scan every nook and corner of the town and its surrounding areas daily and there is little chance of any injured or uncared for patient escaping their attention.

The Sahara Jan Sewa also enjoins the youth to desist from drug addiction and fight against the social evils. It also tries to settle matrimonial disputes.

The district administration, however, seems unmoved by the efforts put up by the volunteers in serving mankind. The organisation could not get possession of the one-acre plot allotted to it by Deputy Commissioner Amarjit Singh in 1995.

The Sahara Jan Sewa volunteers are always ready to help the administration in times of crisis. Whenever a mishap take place, the volunteers do not waste precious time in transporting the injured to hospital. In the Dabwali fire tragedy, in Lehra Khana bomb blast and in the recent bomb blast in the town, volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa did much to save precious lives.