Out in search of work, Nepali migrants hit another stumbling block

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The family had reached Panchkula last week, where Seema and her daughter, Taara, decided to stay in a shelter home.(Representational Image)

SEEKING REFUGE at a relative’s home on her way from Nepal to Kullu, 31-year-old Seema was rendered homeless all of a sudden when her relatives pushed her out as the lockdown began. Now, living at a shelter home in Sector 17, Panchkula, with her one-year-old, all Seema wants is to reach Kullu as soon as the lockdown lifts.

Seema had left her home in Nepal, with her husband and daughter, around the third week of March to reach Kullu before April to work as a daily wage earner, as they do every year. “The weather at this time of the year is nice and it is easier to work. We generally migrate to Kullu around this time to work there on dehaadi,” said Seema.

The family had reached Panchkula last week, where Seema and her daughter, Taara, decided to stay with a relative for a few days, while her husband decided to keep going. “But a few days into the lockdown, my relatives realised they had less food and ration and threw me out,” said Seema.

Seema resumed her journey on foot, before some policemen saw her and brought her to the shelter home. Though Seema has had no complaints with the food and lodging at the shelter home, she longs to reach Kullu, back to her husband.

Meanwhile, the government school turned shelter home of Sector 17, with almost six rooms, houses as many as 52 people. While the five women and five children have been put in one room, all other rooms have been given to the men.

Four of the five women belong to Nepal who were on their way to Kullu in search of work. A 55-year-old woman had left Haridwar with a godman to reach Gaya, near Allahabad in UP.

The authorities were kind enough to add a television screen to the verandah a few days back, where several now sit and enjoy it all day.

“We have a few children here who would start crying when they get bored and would want to run out of the school premises. When we requested a TV, someone was quick enough to donate it to our shelter. Though it’s rarely the kids who get to actually enjoy it,” said Sub Inspector Ashwani Kumar laughingly. The officer is posted at the school to keep security.

The residents sit on separate school benches in front of the television to maintain social distancing. All residents have also been provided with masks and hand sanitizers.