Idle and hungry amid pandemic

SHILLONG: Their professions are as different as chalk and cheese — a labourer, a two-wheeler mechanic, a tourist taxi driver and a vendor. But they share a common bond; they are all idle and hungry.
It is this section of society that the ongoing lockdown, imposed to break the transmission chain of the rampaging COVID-19, has hurt the most, and although it has crossed the halfway mark, there is no guarantee that life for them and the entire country will return to normal after April 14 when the 21-day period ends.
Shadeb Roy, a labourer in Pynthorumkhrah, said there is no work for him and his group of 20 labourers who are idle since the lockdown began.
“It is very difficult for us to survive as we are not getting any ration since we don’t have ration cards,” he said.
Stating that he along with his friends are now forced to take loans from others for their survival, he said the poor class has not benefitted from the government’s effort to provide essential commodities to them.
Soon after their misery became public, a group of people reached their camp and offered them food one afternoon.
Ranju Malakar, a mechanic who does not own a shop but repairs two-wheelers in the city, said that he along with other mechanics have suffered a lot due to the lockdown. “Our condition is bad and the government here so far has not given us anything whereas in Assam, people are getting rice, dal and other essential commodities from the government,” he said.
Ahmed Ali, who drives a tourist taxi, echoed them saying he has not earned anything since the beginning of the lockdown.
He too reiterated that so far, the government has not given any relief to him though some people have taken his name assuring that they would be provided with essential commodities soon.
H. Ali, a vendor who sells cosmetics in different parts of the state, too rued that his business has been badly affected.
“For the first time in my profession of 25 years, I have been staying at home doing nothing since many days,” he said while hoping that the twin challenges of COVID-19 and livelihood are addressed soon.

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