Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 7 (IANS) Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and a 70-year-old grandmother of two HIV positive children are deeply sad over the passing of former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Sushma Swaraj passed away in Delhi on Tuesday night following cardiac arrest. She was 67.
Chandy recalled that Sushma played a key role in the evacuation of Kerala nurses from Iraq in July 2014.
“She was someone whom I will never forget in the way she went out of her way to give us all the required support for over two weeks at the peak of the trouble that broke out in West Asia then,” said Chandy.
“She acted quickly well past midnight, when I called her to inform that the Air India flight which went to pick the 46 stranded nurses, could not land there. She told me she will call back in 15 minutes, and she did that. And she managed to get the landing permission for the aircraft to land at the airport, which helped to airlift these nurses immediately,” added Chandy.
70-year-old Sallamma told IANS that she was shocked to hear about the sudden demise of the former Union Minister.
“Had it not been for her benevolence that she showed up on my two HIV positive grandchildren, Benson and Bency, in full public glare here in 2003, our lives would have been in absolute misery,” said Sallamma.
The plight of the two siblings was first highlighted in 2003 after they were turned away from a school because of their HIV positive status.
The Kerala government did take up the case, but it was Sushma Swaraj whose efforts helped her the most. Sushma, after hearing about their woes and the ostracism they were facing, flew down to the city and met the two kids. Sushma hugged them and kissed them.
It was her hug that changed the lives of the two kids and the helpless Sallamma.
“It was because of this gesture that we started getting monthly support which took care of the children’s education needs. We will never forget her,” said Sallamma.
While Bency passed away in 2010 succumbing to the dreaded ailment, Benson is going to be 23 now.