Kochi: At a time when sensitising migrant labourers about the need to comply with the nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus has become a challenge for authorities across the country, a home guard in Kerala is winning hearts with his unassuming and effective communication skills.
A video of Karunakaran, attached to the Meppayur police station in Kozhikode, creating awareness among a group of migrant labourers in Kozhikode in fluent Hindi has gone viral.
Sharing the video on Facebook, Ernakulam District Collector S Suhas wrote that words were not enough to thank people like him. In a message in Hindi, the collector also urged everyone to listen to the policeman.
In the video, Karunakaran is heard explaining the labourers about coronavirus and Covid-19, like a teacher educating children. He also advises the labourers on the need to stay back at the camps until the lockdown is lifted. He asks them whether they have enough supply of food, water and other essentials. If you have any illness, you should go to the nearby government hospital, he tells them. All these while, the labourers – guest labourers as the Kerala government addresses them of late – are seen patiently listening to Karunakaran.
Karunakaran told Onmanorama that he went to the labour camp to create awareness among the labourers as directed by the Station House Officer at Meppayur.
Karunakaran, who retired from the Indian Army after 22 years of service, joined Home Guard two years ago. He has also served in the Fire and Rescue Services.
"I have spoken to migrant labourers at eight camps in Meppayur. They are not aware of coronavirus or COVID-19. But they are ready to listen to when we speak to them. Hence there is no issue here. We can avoid problems if we are ready to speak to them as well as listen to them," he said.
The video went viral on Sunday, the day hundreds of migrant labourers took to the streets in Kottayam district's Paippad demanding facilities to go home. Authorities had a tough time pacifying the crowd that defied lockdown. The government is probing a conspiracy angle behind the sudden gathering of the labourers.
Kerala has over 5,000 camps housing more than 1.70 lakh labourers from other states.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has repeatedly said about doing everything possible to take care of them. Perhaps, the state needs more Karunakarans at this hour of crisis.