Stranded near the Kerala-Karnataka border well past midnight with little hopes of immediate help, a group of 14 women decided to dial Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s number as their last resort. At 1:30am, the call was picked up by the chief minister himself after just two rings.
After listening patiently to their plight and pacifying them, Vijayan soon gave them directions to contact the district collector and Superintendent of Police (SP) of Kerala’s Wayanad district. He even gave them the contact numbers and assured that he would ask the officers to do the needful.
The women were returning to Kerala from Hyderabad and had started their journey at 7am on Tuesday in a tempo traveller that they themselves had arranged. However, by the time they reached Muthanga near the Kerala-Karnataka border around midnight, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the nationwide lockdown.
The driver, who had promised to take them to Kozhikode, changed his mind upon hearing about the lockdown. He said the group would be dropped off at the Kerala-Karnataka border.
The group was left in a dilemma. It was well past midnight when they reached the Kerala border. In their panic to leave Hyderabad, the women had carried only a few bottles of water for the journey. They had not had food nor used washrooms for almost a day for fear of lack of hygiene.
Realising that getting down at Muthanga would be unsafe at midnight, they decided to travel further to Tholpetty in the same traveller. Meanwhile, they managed to call the CM. As per Vijayan’s directions, the group soon contacted the Wayanad SP, who promised that an alternate means of transport to continue their journey further would be arranged from Tholpetty.
Once the group reached Tholpetty, they washed their hands and got their temperatures checked. Within 20 minutes, Thirunelli SI A.U. Jayaprakash arrived with a vehicle and helped every girl reach her home safely.
The incident came to light after one of the rescued women, Athira Shaji, shared the incident in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
She wrote that the situation at their hostels in Hyderabad was deteriorating day by day and that was why they decided to travel to their homes in Kerala. But they were stopped at almost every checkpoint. The only relief they had was a letter from the Kozhikode collector approving the journey.
With the driver changing his stance, they tried seeking help from various quarters. But all were helpless with the lockdown kicking in a short-notice. That’s when Athira, employed at TCS in Hyderabad, decided to call the Kerala chief minister who ensured their safe journey.
All the women reached their homes by 11am on Wednesday, Athira wrote in her Facebook post. “The Kerala government is not just with you, but ahead of you to guide you, in such troubling times,” she ended her post.