Desperate to go home, migrant workers wait for lockdown to get over

NEW DELHI: Baleshwar Chaudhary who hails from Bihar is waiting for April 14, when he can leave the quarantine shelter and visit his hometown. When lakhs of migrant labourers stood outside Anand Vihar Bus Station, trying to go back to their respective villages, they were stopped and brought into shelter homes and places turned into quarantine centres.

One of them is Yamuna Sports Complex, which has been turned into a quarantine facility by the Delhi government. It is giving shelter to about 255 people, according to the person in-charge there. Meanwhile, 70-year-old Chaudhary had just finished his lunch when he sat down on his mattress. "I used to work at the railways and was staying here. A few days back, the police picked me up from the border. I was trying to leave but as I couldn't walk properly, they brought me here. Now, I am just waiting for April 14, when the train services will resume," he said. The complex is also giving shelter to the homeless and includes those who violated the curfew. Mahesh, who has two children and a wife said his family is unaware of his where abouts. "I had come out to get water, when I was questioned by the police, who brought me here," he said. Mahesh is a resident of Shahdara and has no phone with him. "Please get me out of here. I want to go back to my home," he said. Doctors are available at the complex all the time, where routine checkups also take place. The official said that they have no information as to till what date will the complex be used as a quarantine centre. "As of now, we have been told that the complex will be used till April 14. There are many hungry and homeless people, who also come here to eat. We are working round the clock to provide a comfortable stay for the people here,"he said.

Meanwhile, about 5000 people are taking shelter in a raen basera at Kashmere Gate. "Since, the lockdown, even more people have started coming," said a daily wage labourer who has been staying here for the past few years. Due to the large amount of people and few helping hands, feeding takes more than three to four hours. "We have been sitting here for three hours. We are hungry and have nowhere else to go. I pick up garbage but my work has stopped for the moment," said Ram Prasad.

Many people have been sleeping outside or near the forest area due to less space. The lockdown will continue till April 14 with reports of it being extended as Coronavirus cases have spiked significantly in the past few days.

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