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‘Should we poison our kids?’ — Indore daily wagers complain of sparse, erratic food supply

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Resident of Indore's Badal ka Bhatta complain they haven't received ration packets for the past few days
Resident of Indore’s Badal ka Bhatta colony complain they haven’t received ration packets for the past few days | Photo: Angana Chakrabarti | ThePrint


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Indore: For the residents of Badal ka Bhatta colony in northern Indore, the Covid-19 lockdown has brought about an extended period of unemployment and scarce food supplies.

The 40-odd families living in the colony are mostly daily wagers and domestic help. But since the lockdown came into effect on 25 March, they are all out of work.

“We were getting by with our jobs (before the lockdown). But now there is no ration and no money to buy anything. With the extension of the lockdown, how will we survive,” asked 24-year-old Pintu Jatav, a painter by profession.

Residents complained they are running out of food as the authorities visited their colony just once since the lockdown. Moreover, the items they received were insufficient to feed their families — some with as many as 24 members.

The lockdown challenge

The lockdown in Indore, a Covid-19 hotspot in Madhya Pradesh that recorded 897 cases and 52 deaths as of Sunday night, has been one of the strictest in the country

The usually bustling commercial centre has now turned into a ghost town as only barricades, police personnel and small crowds can be seen around medical stores.

Commissioner of Indore Municipal Corporation Asheesh Singh told ThePrint the containment and isolation were the only way to control the rising number of cases in the city. 

Commissioner of Indore Municipal Corporation Asheesh Singh
Commissioner of Indore Municipal Corporation Asheesh Singh | ThePrint

“But it was important to ensure that essential supplies and services are being sent, so that people don’t come on the roads,” he said.

Singh said the municipal corporation started a delivery system — a few days after the lockdown was announced — through which packets of 15 essential items, including milk, 10-kilo wheat, 10-kilo rice, 2-kilo daal, sugar, oil, salt and vegetables like potatoes and onions, are being sent to people.

Deliveries are either made on requests received through a helpline or through a distribution mechanism implemented with the help of social organisations.

According to the commissioner, 1,05,000 dry ration baskets have been delivered until Thursday last week and 40,000 cooked food packets are being delivered daily.

“We have created a helpline on which we get 8,000 calls daily by both those who live in hostels and the poor. We also have a list of all the bastis (slums) where the poor live and made two kinds of arrangements for them. First, we made food packets and through social organisations, we reached out to them. Apart from that, we also distribute dry rations… We maintain a proper record and go to the bastis one week later,” he said. 

But the situation in Badal ka Bhatta tells a different story.


Also read: At Indore’s Covid-19 Ground Zero, there’s fear, suspicion and hostility — but some hope too


‘Should we die hungry or poison our kids?’

When ThePrint visited the colony last Wednesday, it had been over a week since the residents had received ration from the administration.

According to the residents, the ration packets they received earlier didn’t have enough quantities of food items.

“In the packets that Dipu Yadav, the local councillor, sent, there were only 2.5 or 2 kilos of wheat. Some had one kilo of onion, some only half a kilo… Also no one in our colony received sugar or tea,” said housewife Sarika Goud.

As supplies ran out, calls to the civic body’s helplines became more frequent. 

The residents were also forced to eat sattu (a healthy flour), supplied by a local anganwadi, as they have no rice or wheat.

A resident shows a packet of sattu, which they've been forced to eat in the absence of rice and wheat
A resident shows a packet of sattu, which they’ve been forced to eat in the absence of rice and wheat | Photo: Angana Chakrabarti | ThePrint

Kiran Santosh, a housewife, was extremely exasperated as she wasn’t getting food supplies since the past few days.

“We called all the numbers but they only kept saying that the food will come… What will we do? Should we die hungry or poison our kids and then ourselves?”

Faced with such erratic food supplies, as many as 40 residents even tried to meet local MLA Sanjay Shukla to raise the issue. 

“We went there (to Sanjay Shukla’s) place, but they didn’t let us in. The police told us to go away… When the election happens, they all come with their hands folded and we support them believing that they will help us,” said Sushilabai, who used to work as a domestic help.

Residents buying food at exorbitant price

With no food at home, some residents have been stepping out, violating the lockdown, to buy ration, prices of which have increased manifold.

The residents said 5-kilo atta (flour), which usually costs Rs 110, is being sold at Rs 500 now. “If the government makes these things available, we won’t have to go out of the house,” said daily wager Munna Lal.

Asked about these crises in the colony, commissioner Singh said the initial supplies have been sufficient for the families and the civic body was receiving constant feedback from the network of councillors and political representatives along with the helplines.

“We have started a rotation once again in those areas. The areas that you are talking about, they will get it in 1-2 days,” he said last Thursday.

The problem, however, seems to have persisted as the residents told ThePrint the second round of ration packets they received Friday also had insufficient quantities.

“This time we only received 5-kilo atta, half kilo rice, half kilo toor dal, half kilo sugar and half kilo salt. We didn’t get potatoes or onions… How can this last for a family of 10?” said resident Sitadevi Jat.

The ration packet the residents got
The ration packet the residents got last Friday | By special arrangement

Also read: 5-hr sleep, limited PPE, bath outside home: Life of officers called back to aid hotspot Indore


 

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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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