Chandigarh?s ?langar baba? Jagdish Lal Ahuja passes away

For 20 years now, Ahuja’s langar outside the PGI and at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, has been feeding nearly 2,500 people a day

Tribune Web Desk

Chandigarh, November 29

Chandigarh’s ‘langar baba’ Jagdish Lal Ahuja has passed away.

He was recently conferred the Padma Shri for selfless service.

For 20 years now, Ahuja’s langar outside the PGI here and later at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, has been feeding nearly 2,500 people a day.

The langar, which continues to this day, was started outside the PGI in January 2000 when Ahuja was hospitalised there for the treatment of cancer.

Ahuja would often say that no one knew better than him what it meant to go to bed on an empty stomach. His story goes back to Partition, when a 12-year-old Ahuja migrated from Peshawar and stayed at Mansa railway station in Punjab for weeks.

“I have seen such poverty when I was not sure of even getting two square meals a day. But I never got down to begging. I would survive by selling grams,” he would recall.

From Mansa, he shifted to Patiala where he would sell candies and bananas on buses. Later, he moved to Kansal on the outskirts of Chandigarh in 1956 where he started selling bananas.

Ahuja says he was a fun-loving man. “It was my son’s birthday and we were having a party. That day, I felt bad that while we are having a feast, so many people have to go to bed hungry. So, we made rotis and gave them to the poor. I then decided to organise a langar every day,” he once recalled.

He soon started distributing bananas among people. On January 21, 2000, he organised a langar outside the PGI. The response was low on day 1, but by the fifth day, people started coming, he recalled. “For many years, we kept serving daal, roti, chawal and halwa to around 2,000 people daily.”

This continued without a day’s break, but it came at a cost. Ahuja sold a number of properties, including farms, showrooms and residential plots. “I had bought them for thousands, but they sold for crores,” he recalled.

As he was not keeping well for the past some time, only one thing would nag him: who would look after the 'langar' once he is gone.

 

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