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Saturday, April 04, 2020

Ahmedabad: A peek over the barricade

slum settlement near Motera, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Ahmedabad news, gujarat news, indian express news

Written by Avinash Nair | Ahmedabad | Published: February 25, 2020 4:36:23 am
slum settlement near Motera, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Ahmedabad news, gujarat news, indian express news Residents of a slum near Motera village wait across the barricade. (Photo: Avinash Nair)

Determined not to miss the roadshow, Raju Kaladia, a resident of a slum settlement near Motera village closer to the grand Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, placed a stool on an empty handcart and climbed on to it to look over the brown cloth barricade to get a glimpse of US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As the cavalcades arrived around 1.30 pm, the crowd cheered on seeing Modi waving from inside this vehicle. The President’s cavalcade that followed a few minutes later also got a huge applause, as First Lady Melania waved to the crowd that gathered on the left side of the cavalcade where the artists played “Vaishnava Jan Toh” – a favourite ‘bhajan’ of Mahatma Gandhi.

However, by the time the cavalcade of the dignitaries arrived near Motera village, a number of people who had been waiting since early morning stretched themselves on the footpath under the shade of a neem tree behind the barricade. Among them was a group of milk producers from Ganesar in Dholka taluka of Ahmedabad.

“Uttam Dairy brought us here yesterday. We were given food last night and temporary accommodation. We have been waiting here since 8 am and now we are feeling dizzy in this heat. We have been asked not to carry food items, and so we are hungry as well. The policemen are not allowing us to leave as the entire road has been blocked,” said Chosala Karibi.

Parbat Thakore, who had come from Viramgam along with his two sons, said, “I had come to show my children the US President. I am exhausted and hungry and so are my kids. Now I feel I should have watched the event on television,” Thakore said.

Madhu Chauhan, who had brought her grandchild to see the singers perform on the temporary stage set up on the footpath, told The Indian Express, “Many people are complaining of hunger. They have arrived here very early in the morning. I gave food to a few, but how can I feed everyone?”

The open plot near the slum also became a public urinal for those who gathered to see the guests. Divya Patni a resident of the slum, said, “This morning they came and set up a barricade and now we cannot see the roadshow. If the poor are hidden and not shown to Modi, how will he know the condition we exist in?” A mobile medical van was also stationed at the spot.

Apart from the medical van, the open plot also had a diesel generator used to power a sound system for the group of 29 artists from Surat, “Sitara Soulful Swara” who had gathered to entertain the crowd.

Suhani Shah, a doctor heading the mobile medical unit stationed near the slum, said, “Since morning we have treated and provided medicines to people who had come to us from the nearby slums and the neighbourhood. Most of the complaints were related to nausea, giddiness, fever and headache,” said Shah who had come from a primary health centre at Upardal in Sanand near Ahmedabad.

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