COVID-19 pandemic

Passengers seek regular meals at night shelters

Passengers seek regular meals at night shelters

Domestic workers, who are at present out of work, are also facing finacial problems and shortage of essential items in Jalandhar. Tribune Photo: Malkiat Singh

Ajay Joshi

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 31

There was a time when hardly any visitor was seen at raen baseras (night shelters) of the railway station or the city bus stand, but after the curfew was imposed, both night shelters are full.

In the absence of any other accommodation, all stranded passengers, including men, women and children, have been shifted to these shelter homes. However, owing to the inadequate arrangements, passengers and migrants spending their nights here are only counting their days and waiting for the lockdown to get over.

“The otherwise empty night shelter at the city railway station is full of people these days. Forget about maintaining 1 metre distance, the passengers are even sharing beds due to the shortage of required number of bedding. Contrary to the capacity of around 42 beds, around 40-45 passengers, who couldn’t make it to their native place, are presently residing at the night shelter,” said Lakhwinder Singh, a helper at the shelter home. Besides, after two women left the shelter home due to medical reasons, two women are still staying here. Some of the local homeless people sleep outside the shelter home.

Manmohan Kumar, a 27-year-old youth from Maharashtra, who got stuck due to the cancellation of his train to Mumbai, said: “It’s been six days since I’m staying here. I had gone to Chandigarh for a job interview before the Janta Curfew was announced and after finishing my interview, I went to Amritsar to board the Golden Temple mail. However, when I reached there, I was told that that the train has been cancelled and after spending two days in Amritsar, a local transporter told me that there was a direct bus to Delhi from Jalandhar. Hence, I bought a second hand cycle to reach here but after reaching here, I was shocked to know that there was no such bus. Subsequently, with the help of the police, I came here and am staying at the night shelter since then.”

Dependent on NGOs for food, he said the district administration should at least do something to provide regular meals to stranded people.

Despite the fact that it had been written outside that first-aid kit was present inside the night shelter, no one has been trained to give first-aid. In addition, the occupants rued about the unhygienic atmosphere around the shelter home, as there were no hand sanitiser or mask available.

A couple from Uttar Pradesh, who left the night shelter at the railway station three days ago, complained about dirty bathroom. Mattresses and blankets were also dirty.

Another stranded passenger from Mathura appealed to the administration to arrange a visit of doctor, as many people visit the place every day. Arvind Kumar, the caretaker of the shelter said, since the place was close to Kazi Mandi, a 24-hour presence of cops was needed, as passengers were scared of the presence of miscreants..

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