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Friday, June 05, 2020

Stranded in Uttarakhand: ‘6-7 people in a room… where is social distancing?’

The lockdown was imposed in Uttarakhand immediately after the Janata Curfew in the state on March 22.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Dehradun | Updated: March 31, 2020 1:57:10 am
coronavirus, coronavirus lockdown, national lockdown, migrants movement, india lockdown, uttarakhand migrant, uttarakhand lockdown, indian express At the Raja Ram Mohan Roy Academy, in Dehradun. (Express Photo)

In her forties, Shahnaz Bano comes from Khatakhedi village in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district. She had come to Dehradun on March 21 for a treatment at Doon Hospital following certain health complications and had to stay back for a day. But that was before the world as she knew it changed — a lockdown was imposed in Uttarakhand immediately after the Janata Curfew in the state on March 22. The state borders were sealed and public transport was stopped.

A week on, she was still trying all means to get a transport back to Saharanpur. In vain.

On Sunday evening, police personnel found Shahnaz near the city’s ISBT and asked her to go to Raja Ram Mohan Roy Academy, where arrangements have been made for accommodation of migrant labourers walking back home — within the state and outside, especially to UP.

Shahnaz, who has no family after her husband left her a few years ago, said: “I want to go home. I am the only woman here. The others in the room are men. I will request police officials — when they come — to provide me a separate room.”

SP (City) Shweta Chaubey said she will ensure separate arrangement for Shahnaz if no one is accompanying her.

Chaubey said that several places, including the local gurdwara and educational institutions such as those in Nehru Colony and Prem Nagar, are being used to provide shelter to migrant labourers.

At Ram Mohan Roy Academy, 24 labourers have been put up in three classrooms, and are provided all meals. There are carpets in the rooms for them to sleep on, but they complained of mosquitoes and asked for mosquito nets.

But the workers said they want to go home. Vinod Kumar, 34, who works as an attendant at a hotel in Delhi, walked to Dehradun to return home – in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district. “When I was heading towards Rishikesh on Sunday evening, some policemen near ISBT told me that I cannot go anywhere… They asked me to stay here in this school, but I want to go. There are six or seven people in a single room. Where is the social distancing,” he asked.

Vinod has written a message for the district magistrate and police on the classroom board: “We are stranded in Dehradun and have no conveyance to go home. Those who want to go home on foot, please allow them to leave.”

P S Mehra, in-charge of security at the school, said the workers are being given food with the help of social organisations and the police.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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