Collective of organizations narrates migrant’s unacceptable plight at Rajasthan shelter home

No water, open defecation – this is what the migrant had to endure during his 12 hours stay there


Migrants workerImage

Migrant workers in India have received the short end of the stick during the lockdown imposed by the coronavirus and that has now become common knowledge. Their socio-economic status has robbed them of their dignity and the right to ask for basic sanitation that is required to survive this pandemic. They are cramped in shelters and have no access to toilets, water, and soap and survive on meager amounts of food.

The mismanagement may be hidden by the mainstream media, but a collective of organizations like PUCL Rajasthan, Center for Equity Studies, Majdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Rajasthan Asangathit Mazdoor Union and RTI Manch among others who are helping migrants during this crisis, narrate the experience of a migrant labourer who spent 12 hours at Rajasthan’s Chaugan stadium, currently operating as a shelter home for migrants in Jaipur.

The note reads, “Anil Kumar, a mazdoor boy, travelled 80 kms partly on foot and partly by vehicle, on the April 20, to reach Jaipur from a farm beyond Malpura, Tonk district. He had decided to head to his hometown in Sri Ganganagar as he had been beaten up by the henchmen of his employer. We received a message, from one of our contacts that a Mazdoor was in the park in Mansarovar requiring help. This message we got at 9.45 pm. By 11pm our team led by Kamal Tank, with nurse Babulal and caretaker Naveen, all volunteers, in our present collective, reached the park and gave him food and as planned decided to shift him to a shelter home.”

Kavita Srivastava, associated with PUCL Rajasthan, then called Mr. Jogaram, the Collector and apprised him about the emergency asking for help for Anil Kumar. He stepped in and asked the Tehsildar to allow Kumar in the closest shelter at the 200 feet bypass at Rajkiya Ucch Madhyamik Vidyalaya, Budhiya. While the Tehsildar agreed at first, he later refused to take Kumar in citing the risk to the 140 people already staying at the shelter home who were coronavirus free. Kumar was then directed to be taken to a shelter in the city, inside the basement at Chaugan stadium.

The stadium’s basement had just been converted to a shelter home three days ago and there were no toilets there. The migrants got water through a tanker and were asked to go out to defecate. There could have been mobile toilets, but none were visible. The collective of organizations informed the district collector of these issues the same night they saw this.

Narrating Anil Kumar’s plight there, they said, “In the morning, Anil Kumar, called Mukesh Goswami (of the Rajasthan Asangathit Mazdoor Union) at 10.36pm to be exact. He was crying as the policemen had chased him with a stick and threatened to beat him as he had objected to the bottles used for Open defecation being stuck to taps and people taking the water from the tanker, without using soap and washing their hands. He told Mukesh that we would find his dead body if he was not removed from here as was not prepared to stay in such unhygienic conditions and under humiliating circumstances. He asked that he be moved out immediately. He asked for soap from the police, they refused. He said how was it possible for him to eat anything without washing hands with soap. Although the food did arrive by 11.30am, but refused to eat, as felt unclean.”

The collective informed the Collector, the CEO Vijaypal Singh and the ADM Mr. Birbal. Though the ADM said there were two mobile toilets at the shelter home, Kumar confirmed that though there were toilets, nobody was allowed to go there as they were dirty. Kumar also said that the basement had no fans, no charging points and infested with mosquitoes.

Kumar needs to be shifted to another shelter before he reaches home in Ganganagar and has yet to receive his wages of 36 months from his employer, says the collective.

If this doesn’t depict the plight of migrant workers, then what does? Treated as second-class citizens in their own country, herded in camps like cattle, left to rot without food and water – how have the higher authorities not taken cognizance of the matter, especially after conveniently making every migrant collateral damage in this calamity?

The complete note by the collective of organizations may be read below.


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