Ashok Yadav and Shiv Chandra are elated. Their bad luck has turned into good luck. Their hunger has turned into satisfaction.
Left jobless, hopeless and foodless by the lockdown, around 50 migrant workers had called BMC helpline on Sunday, seeking some help with food or ration as they could neither get any work nor travel back to their houses due to restrictions imposed to control novel coronavirus.
Unable to feed themselves and their families, they had called the BMC. But they got no reply. On Tuesday, India Today TV reported their plight and the help arrived.
But not before the situation turned much worse for them.
Ashok Yadav and Shiv Chandra have been living in Buffalo sheds at Aarey Colony of the Goregaon area in Mumbai. When India Today TV had first spoken to them, they had been waiting for the BMC to reply for over 48 hours. Even as the workers and India Today TV correspondent made several inquiries, all they got were excuses.
The situation turned for worse after the news was reported.
A local leader from the area called up Ashok Yadav and threatened him for going to the media and speaking of his woes.
Later, Ashok Yadav told us that he had tried to tell the local leader that he did not contact India Today TV, but we had contacted him. But the local leader threatened him.
The buffalo shed at Aarey where people have been waiting for food after calling up helpline. (Photo: Vidya/India Today)
Shocked by the treatment, Yadav told the local leader that he did not need any free ration. He then called India Today TV reporter and pleaded that he should be left alone. “I do not want any food, we will live with whatever we can manage but how can anyone talk to us like this. We have done nothing wrong then why should we let someone shout at us,” Yadav said.
Ashok Yadav refused to escalate the issue any further and did not share the name or number fo the local leader with India Today TV.
By then, another 24 hours had passed, but there was no sign of the food or ration promised by the BMC.
Their luck finally turned on Wednesday.
Actor Jaya Bhattacharya called up India Today TV to say that she and her friends have grains that they would like to distribute them in the Goregaon area. Her driver with 40 kg rice and and more pulses reached where these people were located. Within minutes Bhattacharya who lives in Malad area called up India Today TV to say, “There are so many of them there. I thought there would be only some. We will try to gather more and send across.”
Within minutes of Bhattacharya’s call, an elated Yadav called to say that they had finally received some ration and it has been equally distributed among nearly 50 of them who had no money and no food left.
In the meantime, Khushiyan foundation that runs Roti Ghar too contacted India Today TV and offered to help these people at Aarey. Chinu Kwatra said that until now they have already distributed 1,32,790 meals during the lockdown and 875 families have received ration for 7-8 days.
Kwatra’s team reached Aarey and handed over ration to 50 people. This team has been helping the BMC in its endeavour to feed the poor during the lockdown.
These people had also received poori bhaji in the morning and some more ration in small quantity reached them by Thursday. Seeing all the food and ration being distributed at Unit no 1 of Aarey, labourers from Unit 2 came over and told Kwatra’s team that they too needed ration.
Looking at their plight, Shiv Chandra and Ashok Yadav gave them some of their own rations until help arrives at their doorstep.