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How hundreds in Delhi spent 4 days before CM acted

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Homeless people and migrant workers sit in rows at the Yamuna bank in New Delhi. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
Homeless people and migrant workers sit in rows at the Yamuna bank in New Delhi. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint


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New Delhi: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has decided to move nearly 400-500 people who had settled on the banks of Yamuna in the national capital over the last few days amid an extension of the nationwide lockdown.

The CM said in a tweet Wednesday evening that arrangements were made to shift the labourers stuck at Yamuna Pushta near Nigambodh Ghat, most of whom claimed to be migrant workers, to other shelters and provide them with food.

The Delhi government’s action, however, only came after reports poured in of people gathering in huge numbers at Yamuna Pushta, after being rendered homeless due to a fire at a shelter home in Kashmere Gate where they were staying.

Those who were staying on the Yamuna banks were made to sit in rows. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
Those who were staying on the Yamuna banks were made to sit in rows. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint

Mukesh Sahni and Rakesh Choudhary, from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and Siwan, respectively, used to live at the shelter before it burnt down on 11 April. The cause of the incident has seen conflicting reports. But it certainly pushed both these men, among hundreds of others, to the banks of Yamuna.

On Wednesday, ThePrint spoke to both and a number of other people who had gathered there. The wish everyone made in unison was to go back to their native homes.

Amid uncertainty over their living conditions, Chaudhary expressed fear, especially after the Delhi Police arrived at the Yamuna location to escort the labourers in local buses to different shelters across the city.

“I don’t know where they are taking us. They cleared us from where we were staying. We know there is a pandemic currently, but don’t know where else to go therefore took shelter on the banks of Yamuna,” he said.

A man looks out the window of a local bus as Delhi Police escorts the homeless to shelter homes. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
A man looks out the window of a local bus as Delhi Police escorts the homeless to shelter homes. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint

Also read: Delhi private hospitals refusing medical care due to Covid-19 will lose registration: AAP govt


‘Homeless, not migrant labourers’

ThePrint spoke to several people who had assembled at Yamuna Pushta. Most of them said they were from different parts of the country – Rajasthan, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, among others. They also had jobs prior to the nationwide lockdown imposed on 24 March to contain the spread of Covid-19. This week, the lockdown was extended until 3 May.

Narendra Kumar Dulhani, a 55-year-old from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, used to work in a nearby hotel and often doubled as a rickshaw puller. After the lockdown came into effect, the hotel he worked at shut down, forcing him to seek shelter at the Kashmere Gate home.

A view of the burnt shelter home in New Delhi. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
A view of the burnt shelter home in New Delhi. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint

“I want to go back home… I had even made a reservation on 1 April to go back to Jabalpur anticipating that trains would start running after 15 April, but don’t know what to do now. I am stuck,” said Dulhani.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to extend the lockdown, the Indian Railways also decided to not resume its services. It cancelled all bookings between 15 April and 3 May.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Dulhani said he was aware about the dangers of so many people being in such close proximity. “Though I am scared, I am also helpless. I have no place else to go,” he said.

His friend from Berhampur in Odisha, who was a conductor prior to the lockdown, said he wanted to go home but didn’t have money to do so.

“I will have to work once the lockdown is over to earn money and only then can I make my way back. Since the lockdown I have been sleeping at bus stops, shelter homes and parks,” said the person who didn’t wish to be named.

The belongings of people who were staying at the banks of Yamuna in New Delhi. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
The belongings of people who were staying at the banks of Yamuna in New Delhi. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint

Sudama, a rickshaw puller from Uttar Pradesh, told ThePrint that he had to seek refuge in shelter homes as there were no means to earn any money after the lockdown.

On Wednesday, as the Delhi Police reached Yamuna Pushta, it repeatedly underscored that the people who had gathered there were not migrant labourers but homeless people from different parts of the city.

“None of the people here are migrant labourers, they are all homeless people from different parts of the city and are being taken to shelters across Delhi and will be provided with food as well as a place to stay,” Rajender Pathania, assistant commissioner of police at Civil Lines, told ThePrint.


Also read: Hand washing to stop coronavirus — 78% of toilets in Mumbai slums lack reliable water supply


One meal a day

While the temporary inhabitants of Yamuna Pushta didn’t have a place to stay, they also struggled with getting two square meals a day. Most of the people there survived on langar (community kitchen) they received once a day from the nearby Gurudwara.

“We get two rotis and dal for the entire day. There is no water to drink either, so we look to find a tap nearby where we can drink water from,” Sumit Verma, a rickshaw puller who is from Jabalpur and was at the Kashmere Gate shelter until 11 April, told ThePrint.

Arun, a rickshaw puller from Moradabad, lamented the lack of food. “Let alone any assistance from the police or government, we are sleeping outside and don’t have basic food to eat and are dependent on the langar which comes once a day,” he said.

People stand in queue for food provided by the Delhi Police. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
People stand in queue for food provided by the Delhi Police. | Photo: Manisha Mondal/ThePrint

On Wednesday evening, the Delhi Police gathered all the homeless people and gave everyone two rotis and dal before putting them into buses to shelter homes.


Also read: No labour, no transport, no demand: UP small farmers’ troubles pile up under lockdown


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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