Lockdown displaces lakhs of migrants

Inmates at Gurugram relief camp bored, homesick and restless

People at a gaushala, converted into a relief camp, at Manesar in Haryana.

People at a gaushala, converted into a relief camp, at Manesar in Haryana.   | Photo Credit: V.V. KRISHNAN

Despite providing food and shelter, several of them are a concerned lot

It has been only five days since Lala Ram, 25, found shelter at a makeshift relief camp at a community centre in Sector 15 Part-II here. He already feels ‘homesick’ and ‘bored’.

“We need not worry about food at the camp, but we also have no work to do. We are not allowed to step outside on the road because of lockdown. It makes us feel bored and homesick. Every time we call our families, we feel more miserable,” he lamented.

Dinesh echoed similar sentiments. He added that since it was a harvest season for Rabi crop, the government should have made better arrangements for their stay in villages. “It will help us get some work. The local farmers will also benefit,” he said.

However, most of them at the Kadipur night shelter are happy. Mostly daily-wagers and regulars for decades now, they need not worry about two square meals a day anymore. “It is comfortable here, but the food served is not inadequate. Also, the quality of the food has deteriorated over the past couple of days,” complained Bablu.

Ashish, another inmate, said they would sit outside the shelter for a few hours daily maintaining a proper distance. Staying at Manesar relief camp, Vijay, a migrant worker at a textile unit in Panipat, feared a further extension of the lockdown.

Neelam’s worry was different. “It is very uncomfortable for me as a woman to stay at the camp with the males all around. It is all the more difficult with a two-year-old child. The government should at least consider sending [those with] families to their native places. There are very few women and children at this centre,” said Neelam.

Support for govt.

Despite the hardships, many at the Sukhrali relief camp supported the government’s decision for lockdown. Having left his home to stay at a relief camp, Rajesh, a tailor, said the decision had hit everyone hard and more so the poor, but the government had little choice.

“I have read in newspapers that countries like Italy and China are struggling, so our government had little choice. But a little planning could have eased the pain of the poor,” argued Rajesh.

He said that he would flash the light from his mobile phone to support the Prime Minister’s call for lighting on April 5. “We should support our government,” another inmate, Ajeet, chipped in.

Counselling planned

Meanwhile, Haryana AIDS Control Society’s project director, Dr. Veena Singh, visited the camp on Thursday and interacted with the inmates. She directed the health authorities to counsel the migrants staying in camps on a routine basis to clear their fear and anxiety, besides initiating recreational activities for the inmates.

Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran’s Estate Officer-II, Vivek Kalia, said the administration would look into Dr. Singh’s suggestions. He added that mostly daily-wagers and a few migrant workers comprised the centres. He claimed the administration supplied food to around 75,000 people every day within the municipal limits, including those in the slums.

Meanwhile, RTI activist Ramesh Yadav felt the government should arrange transport for those in the camps to return home instead of counselling them. He reckoned that many could also be employed as labourers for harvesting.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2020 11:19:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/inmates-at-gurugram-relief-camp-bored-homesick-and-restless/article31252801.ece

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