Padma Shri awardee Jagdish Lal Ahuja was famously called 'Langar Baba' in Chandigarh for serving free food to thousands of underprivileged people every day for the past thirty years. The 86-year-old, who served meals to the underprivileged outside the PGI and Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in sector 32, lost his battle against cancer on 30 November 2021. Ahuja was chosen for the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2020 for his service to the needy and the underprivileged. He was a messiah in the eyes of disadvantaged patients, their attendants, and other poor children in the city for serving them with dal, roti, chawal, sabzi, halwa and bananas for decades.
His Mission To Continue Till His Last Breath
The Indian Express wrote that Ahuja had once shared that his mission was never to let anyone sleep hungry because he had experienced what starvation felt like. He had said, "I do this out of love; when I see them eat after a long day at the hospital and smile, it gives me more satisfaction than anything else in the world. I am fortunate that in my lifetime, I was given a chance to serve others, and my only hope is that this seva should continue even after I am gone. Further, he had added that he hoped that city's people and administration would carry on with this selfless task.
Moved To India During Partition
Ahuja suffered several odds and financial issues but never stopped feeding langar to the needy. He had to briefly for the lack of funds but resumed his service to society, even if it required him to sell off seven of his properties. Ahuja was merely 12 when he had to shift to Patiala from Peshawar in Pakistan during the partition. He had moved to Chandigarh in 1956 and began by selling fruits on a cart in the city and went on to build his business. The journey began after he served food to the underprivileged children outside his shop on his son's birthday and later became a calling for the Octogenarian. His last wish was that the langar continued to be served, despite his death.