‘Don’t have savings… whenever I hear of free food, I rush there’

Ashna Butani
MIgrant workers, India lockdown, Shelter homes, delhi news, coronavirus outbreak, indian express news

At the New Delhi railway station, many said they could not get the food.

Pinki Ashrawa from Jhansi used to work as a daily wage labourer in Najafgarh before the lockdown left her without a job and money. Asha, who sells jewellery and old clothes near Nizamuddin, too has been unable to make any money over the last week.

For Pinki, Asha and 2,000 other daily wage workers, the Indian Railways distributed free food at the New Delhi, Nizamuddin and Shakurbasti railway stations Saturday.

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“My work came to a sudden halt a week ago. I live in Delhi with my husband and two young children, but we are unable to sustain our livelihood,” said Pinki, as she accepted khichdi, packaged curd and bottled water from Railway Protection Force officials at Nizamuddin station.

She said she also asked officials for help in reaching her hometown. “We are trying to go back to our parents’ home in Jhansi. We have heard that if we walk around 100 km to UP, we will get a bus to Jhansi from there,” said Pinki.

Asha added, “I do not have any savings. So whenever I hear that food is being distributed at a particular spot, I rush there. I have two sons — one of them with me, while the other is with my husband in Maharashtra. Since I cannot go to Maharashtra, I am living on the streets here.”

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A N Jha, Senior Security Commissioner, Delhi Division, Indian Railways said that food is being prepared “in hygienic kitchens of IRCTC... All precautions of social distancing are being maintained during preparation and distribution of food.”

At the New Delhi railway station, many said they could not get the food. Munna Saha, from Bihar, a shopkeeper near the station, said, “We really need food, but more than that we would be grateful if the government could arrange for us to get back home. There is no point staying in Delhi when we are not working.”