Laborers on verge of starvation in Doda amid lockdown

A laborer, Mohammed Salim Gujjar along with his family of four children and elder parents is starving from last two days and is anxiously waiting for some kind of help to arrive before the worst hits his family.

With the ongoing lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the laborer has not earned a single penny from last fortnight.

Residing in a small hamlet of Alan-Sharekhi village situated on a high altitude meadow, Mohammed Salim Gujjar used to come down daily to Bhadarwah town to find daily laborers work.

However, with the lockdown, he is not able to come out of his home and it is affecting him and his family.

“With work coming to standstill in Bhadarwah town, I have not earned a single penny from last 15 days. We are not being allowed to move out from our place. We are basically without money and without essentials,” said, Mohammed Salim Gujjar of Alan-Sharekhi village.

“I am left with nothing. We are waiting for the help to come. Hope it comes soon before my family and I would die due to starvation,” said Mohammed Salim Gujjar.

Mohammed resonates the lives of scores of laborers living in tribal areas of Doda district are presently living after their livelihood was hit by the ongoing lockdown which is put in to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The Gujjar tribe residing on high altitudes usually trek down the hill to the villages and towns with their produce (milk) and to find labour work for themselves to meet their ends. However, with the lockdown no such thing is happening,” said a local.

He added that scores of Gujjar families residing on the slopes in small hamlets like Alan-Sharekhi, Dooru-Sartingal, Kota Top, Darie, Ladoo, Rajpura, Kilroo, Ghil-Kanaan , Padri, Qatari, Kainthi, Gildhar, Sarola, Kilroodhar, Guldanda and Bhal-Padri of the hilly district, due to the ongoing lockdown are finding it hard to meet their ends.

Many laborers go to the neighboring states like Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand for work during winters. Due to the lockdown they are also stranded there while their families back home have reached to starvation and are pleading for help which is not coming from any quarter.

“I have been borrowing money to survive as my husband is stranded at Shimla due to lockdown. But for how long with people lend me the money as they need it themselves. I wonder what I am going to do, if the lenders would refuse to extend the help!”asked Gulshana, wife of stranded labourer Abdul Gani said.

“If nothing, at least government can help us in getting our bread-earners back to their homes,” Gulshana said. When contacted Additional Deputy Commissioner Bhadarwah Rakesh Kumar said, “We have enough stock of foodgrains with us. But I was not aware of the problem being faced by the tribal population living in high altitude areas. I will immediately send a team in these hamlets and subsequently ration will be sent to them at an earliest.”