Mumbai: 31-year-old Shahnawaz Shaikh has earned appreciation across social media platforms after he sold his SUV to provide free oxygen to over 250 families during the COVID-19 crisis, Mumbai Mirror reported. The report added that before selling the SUV Shahnawaz was using the vehicle as a makeshift ambulance to help people during Corona Pandemic.

When he bought the SUV in 2011, the Malad resident spent extra on a premium number plate – 007 – and a customized music system.

His decision to sell the SUV and provide free oxygen came when the wife of his business partner who was six-month pregnant died of COVID-19 in an autorickshaw, outside a hospital after being turned away from five other hospitals.

When he discussed the incident with his doctor friends, Shahnawaz was told that her life could’ve been saved had she been given oxygen on time. This, Shahnawaz said made him resolved to find a way to help people. He was introduced to a manufacturer by one of his friends. Shahnawaz added that the manufacturer was moved by his decision to provide free oxygen to patients and helped him thoroughly.

To acquire the oxygen, Shahnawaz sold his SUV and his friends spread the word on social media about free distribution of oxygen.

“There are just two simple things we ask from people calling to say they need oxygen cylinders - one, a doctor’s recommendation, and two, that they come to pick it up themselves,” he said. In exceptional cases, like when the entire family is in quarantine, a team of volunteers in protective gear travels across the city with oxygen cylinders. “The farthest we have traveled is from Malad to Haji Ali. Volunteers don’t enter the house and, despite wearing PPEs, maintain social distancing,” he said.

Shaikh said he gives each batch of relatives the oxygen kit and a crash course in its use, which he put together with the help of Dr. Sabauddin Shaikh of Care Hospital. He said, “[Dr. Shaikh] helped us make a video to demonstrate the use of the cylinders. He has also provided other support when needed.” Apart from this, Shaikh also advises each family to consult a doctor on the oxygen pressure required by the patient. “I’m not claiming to provide an alternative to hospitalization. All we can help with is providing life support to people with breathing difficulties,” he said.

Asked if it pained him to sell his SUV, Shaikh’s response was an emphatic “no”. “It’s not hard to give up one car to save someone’s life. Even if I’m blessed by just one grateful family for this deed, I will be able to buy four such cars someday,” he said. Shaikh recalled that just a few weeks ago, at the start of the lockdown, he had used his SUV as a free ambulance for people in Malad. “There are so many poor people in slums in this area who cannot find transportation, even to hospitals. Many of the people I took to the hospital later turned out to be COVID-positive,” he said. Because of this, Shaikh said, he has been taking extra precautions at home. His wife and two-year-old daughter live in one part of the house, which he does not enter unless he has been properly sanitized.

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Hong Kong, Oct 25: Amnesty International said Monday it would close its two offices in Hong Kong this year, becoming the latest non-governmental organization to cease its operations amid a crackdown on political dissent in the city.

The human rights group said its local office in Hong Kong would close this month while its regional office will close by the end of the year, with regional operations moved to other offices in the Asia-Pacific region.

This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong's national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government, Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty's board, said in a statement.

Hong Kong implemented a sweeping national security law in 2020 following months of massive anti-government protests. The law outlaws secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign collusion to intervene in the city's affairs. More than 120 people, many of them supporters of the city's democracy movement, have been arrested under the law.

The majority of the city's prominent pro-democracy activists are behind bars for taking part in unauthorized assemblies, and dozens of political organizations and trade unions have ceased operations out of concern for their members' personal safety under the security law.

Bais said the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signaled authorities were intensifying their campaign to rid the city of dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment, she said.

Critics in Hong Kong say the national security law is an erosion of freedoms, such as those of expression and assembly, that were promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.