New Delhi, Mar 21 (PTI) Three Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel who helped reunite a stranded 70-year-old man with his family in Karnataka after about three decades have been awarded the top force commendation for undertaking the humanitarian task.
The troops, posted with the 36th battalion of the border force in Uttarakhand's Lohaghat, found Kenchappa Govindappa at a roadside eatery in nearby Chalti village of the state when one of them stopped there for refreshments early this year. Constable Riyaz Sunkad saw the condition of the man and described the incident to his two seniors in the battalion who also hailed from Karnataka- Head Constables Premananda Pai and Sharana Basava Ragapur.
'I and Basava (Ragapur) later went to the eatery as we were also proceeding on leave. We found the man was in real bad physical shape and was in an emotional shock as he was lost for years and could not get in touch with his family or relatives.' 'The man knew only Kannada and could not communicate in Hindi. He used to sleep at a bus stop behind the eatery even in bone chilling winters,' Pai told PTI.
The two ITBP jawans sought more information from the eatery owner and were informed that Kenchappa had come to this location on a truck many years back and that he was not paid any money. 'The eatery owner only gave him food for helping him in the daily chores of the shop,' Pai said.
He was living like a destitute and no one could understand his plight as no one could understand him, he said.
The two troopers later made a video with the man at the eatery and uploaded it on social media platforms like Facebook following which they received a call from an advocate who knew Kenchappa's family that lived in Kalghatagi village of Dharwad district in Karnataka.
The two ITBP men then embarked on an over 2,000 km journey and took Kenchappa to Delhi, lodged him in a hotel, got him a good bath and shave, bought new clothes for him and got into a train to Karnataka.
'We handed him over to his family who were elated to see him. We were informed that Kenchappa had six children, four sons and two daughters, and he had left home sometime in 1991 in search of a job.' 'From Karnataka, he probably reached Maharashtra and later to Chalti in Uttarakhand where we found him,' Pai said.
When asked what made them undertake this noble mission, Pai said in an unflattering tone: 'How could we turn our back on someone who had suffered so much in life. It was only human to do what we did.' The ITBP headquarters in recognition of this humanitarian deed early this month awarded the Director General commendation role and silver disc insignia, meant for rendering exceptional service, to the three personnel who joined the paramilitary force around 2002-2003.
Their citation said they are being awarded the top category force honour 'for exemplary humane approach and a great sense of responsibility by reuniting an old man with his family by taking him from Chalti to Dharwad.' ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said 'the force is proud of the three men who did a humanitarian task beyond the call of their official duty and reaffirmed the values that the force stood for.' The about 90,000 personnel strong ITBP is primarily tasked to guard the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China apart of rendering a variety of internal security duties. PTI NES DV DV