Chattogram Metropolitan Police's Double Mooring Police Station has taken an exceptional initiative for low-income people and hospital patients amid the ongoing lockdown.
Under the initiative "Free iftar and sehri shop," the police are distributing free iftar and sehri among about 1,200 people every day at Agrabad Maternal and Child Hospital in the city.
Visiting the hospital area on Wednesday afternoon, this correspondent saw patients and their relatives standing in a line waiting to collect iftar while low-income people were also collecting food in another line.
Jahedur, a CNG-run autorickshaw driver, came to the hospital with his pregnant wife from the South Khulshi area of the city. He has been unemployed since the first day of Ramadan due to the lockdown.
"I visited the hospital with my wife on the 12th day of Ramadan. I was worried about purchasing iftar at high prices after paying hospital bills. But then I came to know about the free iftar scheme that the police had started. I have been collecting food twice a day since then," he said.
Laili Begum, who came to the hospital to visit her sick son from the Fakirhat area of the city, said, "Most of the shops outside the hospital are closed due to the lockdown and I do not have any relatives around. I was worried about fasting, but the free iftar and sehri provided by the police have eased my concern."
Mohammad Mohsin, officer-in-charge (OC) of Double Mooring Police Station, said the free iftar and sehri initiative had been taken with people like Jahedur and Laili in mind.
"Relatives who are with the patients at the hospital face problem arranging iftar and sehri during Ramadan. Low-income people are also suffering due to the lockdown. This initiative is an attempt to alleviate their suffering," he added.
Although started by the police, many members of the community have now extended their support to continue the initiative.
Mohsin said members of the Leo Club of Chattogram Port City and the Leo Club of Chattogram Dynamic City are volunteering to make the initiative a success.
"People from different walks of life, including businessmen and industrialists, have extended their help. But we are not taking any cash. Those who are interested are buying us the necessary materials for making iftar and sehri. Our cook makes the food at the police outpost," he added.
Talking to The Business Standard, Syed Morshed Hossain, president (acting) of Agrabad Maternal and Child Hospital, said, "Hotels and restaurants in the Agrabad area are closed due to the lockdown. If it was not for the free iftar and sehri shop, the patients of the hospital and their relatives would have had trouble arranging food."