How the Karnataka IGP number became a migrant helpline

BENGALURU: A small act of appreciation ended up turning an IPS official from the Karnataka cadre into an individual helpline for Bihar migrant workers stranded anywhere in the country.

Police Inspector General (Administration) Seemanth Kumar Singh has so far helped hundreds of migrant workers, coordinating with counterparts in other states to ensure that migrants receive rations and medical assistance on time.

The first of the SOS calls came shortly after the closing was announced on March 24. Seemanth was baffled when Bihari workers in other states called him and looked for food packages and rations. Even while helping them while explaining that he was just a police officer, hundreds of calls kept coming.

The source soon became apparent. An acquaintance of Seemanth had called him after the closing announcement, looking for food for 400 Bihari workers trapped in Bangalore.

With the help of ADGP Dayanand B in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), a team approached the stranded workers and delivered food packages to them through the police and an NGO.

Impressed and grateful for Seemanth's prompt help, his acquaintance recounted the incident to a local newspaper that ran an article celebrating the IGP's business. He also provided his mobile number, saying that Bihari workers who need help anywhere in the country could call this number.

Unknown to Seemanth, his number was shared among WhatsApp groups in Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and soon became a helpline number for Bihari migrant workers.

When they call me, I can't tell them to call the official helpline number, as they are in danger, Seemanth said.

“I collect information and help them by sharing it with the police, NGOs, BBMP and the authorities concerned. I receive hundreds of phone calls daily, mostly asking for basic rations and food packages. Most of them do not know that the number belongs to an IPS officer; they assume it is a helpline number for migrant workers, ”the official said.

I had this number for 20 years, it won't change now: Officer

A family stranded in Kerala without food approached me. They didn't know where they were, so I asked them to send a photo from a nearby store. We tracked them down with the address written on the board and my lot partner helped them with groceries and rations, ”he said.

While there are some requests it can help fulfill, the IGP says it receives lawsuits far beyond its jurisdiction. Some people demanded that special trains be run to take them back home and asked me to book tickets, Seemanth laughed.

Seemanth said he has had the number for 20 years and is not planning on changing it now. “Although calls are increasing day by day, I will continue to help with whatever I can. I hope that someday my personal number will stay with me after the situation relaxes.

Lately, however, other people are also calling him. “I get calls from people who are willing to sponsor food packages. I take their details and pass them on to the local police or local authorities who collect donations to feed the stranded workers, ”he said. It's safe to say that, for now, the IGP is not putting anyone on hold.