Skip to main content

We've reached a point where we may die due to starvation: Marginalised families testify

By Our Representative 

Delhi-based civil rights organisation, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM), along with the National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) and the Magadha Foundation, during recent interactions with “worst affected” waste pickers’ and sewer sanitation workers’ families, has said, during the second wave of Covid-19, their condition “deteriorated” with families “forced to live in a very pathetic condition due to the lockdown.”
Mostly belonging to Dalit and other marginalized sections of Indian society, the “people who earn their food daily by toiling are now struggling to procure a single grain”, a DASAM report said. Engaged in providing relief to some of the families to obtain basic necessities, DASAM added, as the adult members of the families used to earn daily income and provided bread to their families earlier, the relief helped them “buy milk, medicine or other essentials.”
Excerpts from the testimonies of waste picker and sewer workers’ families during the relief work carried out in Delhi's New Seema Puri F Block colony and MCD Colony, Jahangir Puri:
***
Rukhsana, 30, said that both she and her husband worked as waste pickers. Their work has come to a complete halt due to the lockdown. They have 5 children. Children's studies have also stopped. Along with the difficulty of procuring food and water, they have no money left to buy their own or children’s medicine.
Alia, 40, said, she and her daughter were engaged in waste picking. Her son lives in Kolkata. She and her daughter have been doing this work for many years. But due to the lock down, their work has stopped completely. They can’t go out. If they go out in desperation of work, then the police thrash them with sticks. She asks ‘What should we do in such a situation? If there is no work, how will you live?’
Kohinoor Bibi, 38, said, she and her children used to bring waste from the factory and the surrounding area. After collecting, they sold goods out of the waste, but Corona plagued our business. Also, several festivals are round the corner. In such a situation, when there is a crises to eat and drink, how can we celebrate our festival!
Jahan Ara, 45, said that she and her children brought garbage from Shahdara and Surya Nagar (Ghaziabad) but covid has stopped everything. Ara told the team that on the first fast of Ramzan, she was diagnosed as covid positive but was not admitted by any nursing home or hospital. Her children treated her at home, following the doctor’s instruction. During the treatment, she faced a lot of difficulties. There was neither money, nor work. If they do not work for waste, then from where will they eat? Now, the work of picking waste is completely closed, I do not know how we will survive.
The 25-year-old who did not want to be identified said that he has been doing waste picking for 15 years. He used to earn Rs 200-250 per day but everything is closed due to lockdown. When they go to work, the police cut the challan.
Ram Kishan, 63, who was retired in 2018 as a sewer worker in Delhi Jal Board hails from Valmiki community. His family lives in a rented house whose monthly rent is Rs 5,000  per month. They only get a monthly pension of Rs 12,000 which is not enough. The entire pension amount goes to illness and house rent. He asks ‘how can they buy ration when they are left with little money’.
Roshni Devi, 60, used to do cleaning work in bungalows. Eight years ago, she suffered from chikungunya, due to which half of her body became lifeless and she lost her job. Her two daughters used to work as domestic help but can no longer work due to the lock down. Both the daughters are at home. Our economic situation is very critical. We’ve reached a situation where we can die due to starvation.
Sanjana, 24 used to go Anand Parvat for her cleaning work. Due to the lockdown, she is unable to reach at her working area. She doesn’t have an e-pass and the landlords are not calling her to work due to the fear of Corona. In such a situation, things have become very bad. The state of starvation has come. She doesn’t know when the lock down will end and the situation will improve.
Anjali, 22, said, she used to works as house help. The lock down has taken away everything.
The DASAM report concluded, “The economic situation of these families has deteriorated due to the lockdown. Before the lockdown, these families were able to meet their needs easily due to their occupation, but now the condition of starvation is standing in front of them. The sick and elderly are becoming critical in the absence of medicine. No relief material by the government is able to reach these families. The government also needs to pay special attention to these families.”

Comments

TRENDING

Nobel laureates join international figures, seek release of Bhima Koregaon accused activists

Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk,  Wole Soyinka Counterview Desk  As many as 57 top international personalities, including Nobel laureates, academics, human rights defenders, lawyers cultural personalities, and members of Parliament of European countries, have urged the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India to ensure immediate release of human rights defenders in India “into safe conditions”.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Russia, China to call the shots in Middle East, as Muslim nations turn into house of cards

By Haider Abbas* Only a naive would buy that the ‘situation of ceasefire’ between the State of Israel and Hamas would continue, as if the foiled attempt to demolish Al Aqsa this time, is not be repeated, if not in any near future then in sometime to come. Israel already has spurned the ‘ceasefire’ by storming Al Aqsa after the Friday prayers on May 21.

Collapse of healthcare system? Why 90% of Covid patients treated at home survived

By Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* Well known Hindustani classical singer Padma Vibhu shan Channulal Mishra, chosen as one of the proposers of Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha elections, lost his wife and elder daughter to Covid in private hospitals in Varanasi. Younger daughter has accused Medwin Hospital of charging Rs 1.5 lakh for treatement of her sister and not being able to explain the cause of death. Pandit Channulal Mishra has asked for a probe into his daughter’s death from the Chief Minister. The family has also asked for the CCTV footage of the ward where deceased daughter was admitted for a week.

Hunger, lack of food security behind India's 'slip' in UN's sustainable development rank

By Dr Gian Singh*  According to a report released by the United Nations on June 6, 2021, India's ranking of achieving Sustainable Development based on the 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs) set by the 193 countries in the 2003 agenda, which was 115th last year, has slipped to 117th position this year. India ranks not only the lowest among the BRICS countries -- Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa but also below the four South Asian countries -- Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Modi-led regime 'contributed' 60% to rise of global poverty, yet Hindutva is intact

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* In recent years, the Hindutva politics has caused long term damage to India and Indians. The so called 56-inch macho PM, the propaganda master manufactures and survives all political crisis including the current mismanagement of the Coronavirus pandemic in India. In spite of deaths and destitutions, the social, cultural, economic and religious base of Hindutva is intact.

Rooted in mistrust? Covid-19’s march into rural India is a very different ball game

By Sudhir Katiyar* As the Covid-19 virus penetrates rural India, the rural communities are responding very differently from their urban counterparts who rushed to the hospitals. The rural communities are avoiding the public health facilities and any mention of the disease. The note argues that this supposedly irrational response is based on a deep-seated mistrust of the state by the rural communities. It can not be resolved with routine Information, Education and Communication (IEC) measures suggested in the Government of India SOP for tackling Covid-19 in rural areas.

Courageous, in-depth attempt to confirm common spiritual values of Christ, Buddha

By RB Sreekumar, IPS*  All religions, both theistic and atheistic designed conceptual and practical architecture, for holistic and comprehensive elevation and enlightenment of humanity. PK Vijayan, in his novel “Nirvana of Jesus Christ” (Notion Press, 2020) through creative imagination portrayed personality evolution of the two progenitors of God-centric and sagaciously logical major religions – Jesus Christ of Christianity and Gautama Buddha of Buddhism.

Why hasn't Govt of India responded to US critique of freedom of religion under Modi?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* About two weeks ago, on May 12, 2021, the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken released in Washington the ‘2020 International Religious Freedom Report.’ This official annual report of the US Government details the status of religious freedom in nearly 200 foreign countries and territories and describes US actions to support religious freedom worldwide. Mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, this report highlights the fact that ‘religious freedom is both a core American value and a universal human right’.