After months of selfless and unrelenting service during the pendamic, an ambulance driver who ferried hundreds of patients of COVID-19 as well as carrying its victims for their last rites has succumbed to the disease on Saturday at Delhi's Hindu Rao Hospital.
Arif Khan, was on duty 24/7during the COVID-19 outbreak and never went home during his duty. He was the ambulance driver with Shaheed Bhagat Singh Seva Dal, an NGO which runs the free ambulance service in the national capital.
He was one of the dozen ambulance drivers of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Seva Dal who ferried more than 500 COVID-19 victims for their last rites.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Jitender Singh Shunty, president of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Seva Dal, said Arif's demise has left a deep void within the organisation.
"Arif Bhai did a remarkably good job. He used to live here in the hospital so that he can remain available for the job. He worked commendably. On October 1, Aarif developed COVID-19 symptoms. He went to the hospital but came back later. On Friday, we again admitted him to Hindu Rao hospital where he died on Saturday at 8 am. We cremated his body. He has left a deep void that can't be fulfilled. He was a true COVID-19 warrior," Shunty was quoted by ANI.
"He worked 24/7 and was very hardworking. His death has broken morale of other drivers," he added.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday conveyed his condolences to the family members of ambulance driver Aarif Khan.
Khan’s son Aadil, 22, said they had seen him only during his brief visits home since March 21. “We met when he came over to pick up something, like clothes… I used to go to check on him sometimes. We were always worried about him. But he never bothered about Covid, he just wanted to do his job well,” said Aadil, the younger of Khan’s sons, adding that the last time Khan came home, he was already sick.
Khan’s other son, Asif, said, “I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him… How will we survive without him?”
The Vice President said that the deceased's service symbolises the core of Indian philosophy of 'share and care' and prayed for eternal peace for the departed soul.
"My condolences to the bereaved family members of ambulance driver, Aarif Khan of Delhi. He rendered selfless service by ferrying close to 200 bodies of COVID-19 patients for their last rites. It is saddening to learn that he succumbed to the Coronavirus," Naidu's tweet read.
"His acts of kindness symbolise the core of Indian philosophy of 'share & care'. May his soul rest in eternal peace," he added in a subsequent tweet.
(With ANI inputs)