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Millennium Post

All yearend jitters, cheers and shivers

As 2013 comes to an end, the country feels the big chill, actually. Cold wave and dense fog, decade-low temperatures with the mercury threatening to dip further, visibility going for a toss and snow colouring landscapes almost white this season, India grits its teeth and braces for the low. As Delhi reels under a cold spell, with the minimum temperature touching 2.4 degrees Celsius on wee hours of Monday, the fortunate among us spend their days and nights huddled inside their well-heated houses, or at least with adequate layers of protective clothing. However, those among us who are homeless, spend the worst and most hazardous times, coming under the grip of extreme cold, and having no roof overhead and no fire to draw warmth from. The yearend, which for us becomes a time of festive cheer, throbbing with promises and possibilities that might come with the new year, becomes a dreaded time for the homeless, the displaced and the poor in general, who are left without effective mechanism to beat the chill, falling prey to diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis that can be easily be prevented with basic healthcare.

   Whether it’s Muzaffarnagar or East Delhi, the homeless and the street-dwellers do not deserve the inhuman and plainly unwarranted treatment that they get from the state. As the hapless victims of September riots now lay dying, as the rape survivors fight for a place in the relief camps, as children and women lose their lives to the merciless cold, the chief minister and his ilk hold carnivals and try to have a good time. People are killed not just with weapons; they are also killed with neglect and apathy. Riots, and now the dipping mercury, are orchestrated and politicised, to serve narrow ends of those who reap benefits by cheating the public of their dues. It’s a shameful state, to say the least. No festive season is complete if it’s not inclusive.
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