It is tragic to see the way many politicians have maximised the demand by daily wagers to return to their homes.
Most of our cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and all the rest, were not built by the locals or the educated middle class or the rich. Our houses, work places, roads, entire infrastructure is built by the workers from the rural areas of the home state and other states that have been facing extreme poverty– Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Many of these workers too moved up after working for number of years while many simply could not for number of reasons.
Like all poor, these too first came and stayed in slums or at construction work sites. Many stay in one room tennament shared by a dozen, sleeping in turns. None of these residential premises are even worth being called so. Cramped, tin roofs, barely a foot for each person, cheek to jowl premises, have no toilets, drinking water or basic amenities. They are a huge vote bank and every government only extends the cut off date fir legalising these illegal existential premises.
With the outbreak of Covid-19, the main concern and rightfully was slum dwellers and daily wagers are in no win situation. They may die of suffocation and starvation or Corona. There was no way ahead. From January 30th when the first case of Covid was recorded but not revealed, the BJP led central government had enough time of nearly two months to tackle thr situation. But it was not to be. The daily workers were given NO time. A sudden lockdown was announced at 8.00pm. (Let us not get into this man’s –PM’s, obsession for late night diktats). The poor workers were given no time. They were not even aware of the dreadful future that awaited them. Mainly, NO food and NO work.
Visuals of women, children, workers walking from one city to their homes, which are hundreds if not a few thousand kilometres away. Barely any footwear, carrying their belongings they are either walking, cramped in trucks, cars or some on cycles, gripped by fear of dying from hunger, their mission is yo reach their homes.
Hunger, is like a curse and nobody should suffer from it. This is a well said statement, rozi roti…be it any government, has failed its people. This utopian ideal is just NOT tackled in the capitalist governments that failed its citizens. And the BJP party, with its definite divisive ideology based on religion, this was evident, thd majority migrant workers, mainly Muslims, were NOT their priority. The initial cold snub by elite in our society, including news organisations, they questioned, why were the workers risking their lives going back home.
Nearly 500 or even more have died– exhaustion, run over by trucks/card, slept on the railway tracks and run over by trains, hunger. It is endless as we witnessed such pictures of people travelling distances. Their resolution to go back to their poor huts or homes is but natural. Being one with your family, is the basic source of strength andi ing that one has. Something, that a man who has abandoned his child bride, mother, will nit understand. Obviously hinting at the PM.
Within our city, if we travel for dinner to a friend’s house, however late, we want to head back home. Here, the workers want to be their loved ones. There may be no food back home, but they have the strength of their families to help them live through these times. Back in our cities, they were living off alms, charities, something their self respect would not permit. Because they knew, one day all this would run dry. Then what would they do? Go hungry? Who would fend gor them? They are clued to the ground realities more than us and they knew the harsh truth
Sadly, some states and police have been harassing the workers to go back. A lot of intervention apart now most have left and it is a shame, we let down our own. These workers helped to build our homes and cities and are now forced to go back, whole we sleep well
More than clapping for police and medics, honestly we should have done to protect the workers