BRAHAM DEV Yadav (42), has been stranded in Panchkula since the lockdown began. He has filled forms on online portals of not just Haryana but also Chandigarh and Punjab in an attempt to reach home, but to no avail. His home is almost 1500 km from here, but it is not the distance that has stopped him from going by road.
Hailing from Madhubani village in Bihar, he says he is ready to walk all the way, but, “My children and my wife are worried. They asked me not to walk. They heard people have died on roads.”
Yadav has now been rendered homeless and all his earnings have been used up to pay rent and sustain himself in April. “I used to work at a famous sweet outlet in Sector 11 of Panchkula. But due to the lockdown, it was closed. Now I have been forced to move out of my residence in Sector 19 since I have no money to pay rent,” he said.
Yadav has not been paid for April. According to him, his employers have claimed they have no money but have given him shelter and food to eat at the sweet shop itself in exchange for work. “I now live at the shop and eat there. I have no hopes of getting any money. Matlab ki duniya hai, jab unka matlab nikal gaya to hume kon puuchega,” he said.
Several migrant labourers with no way to reach home stand in long queues all day long in Panchkula to get a medical certificate which may declare them fit for travel. Men, women and children have had to leave their slums and residences in the district early morning to reach Panchkula’s hospital on foot since the process began on Tuesday.
More than 24,000 have applied to move out of Haryana from Panchkula, but no schedule for trains has yet been announced by district administration.
“I am helpless. Sabhi jagah se train chalri hai, yahaan se kab chalegi? Bas line mai khada rakhenge,” said Bimla Devi, crying as she fed her 9-month-old son, waiting for hours in a line of hundreds for her chance to get tested.
Bimla and her family of 7 are from Panna village of Madhya Pradesh. The family stays at a slum near Mansa Devi temple and used to work as daily wagers. They stood in lines for hours, not knowing that they had to fill a form online and only then would they be given a clearance certificate. After hours of waiting, they were asked to move to the end, fill the form and come back with an OTP.
“We do not have a phone with internet. We do not know how to fill this form. Why can’t they just give it to us? Gareeb aadmi ka koi value nahi hai,” they said.
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