Yuvraj Kafile, 28, a waiter, who used to work in a restaurant at Board Office Square is without work and like his many other co-workers and Nepali brethren is keeping his fingers crossed that soon the things would change for better. Yuvraj shares his fate with thousands of Nepal nationals who came to city to give their family a better future. However, the Corona pandemic has changed the world and the Yuvraj is one among lakhs who are at the receiving end.
The restaurant was shut down in the second week of March on the orders of the state government in wake of COVID-19 pandemic. The owner paid Yuvraj his salary for the month of March with the rider that he would not get a single pie till the hotel reopens, and when even he dint know.
Two months down the line, the hotel continues to be shut and Yuvraj doesn’t know when it would open. All his savings are exhausted, especially since his wife delivered a baby early this month. He is now penniless. It was after he put up an appeal on Facebook that an NGO arranged a packet of ration for him. But Yuvraj knows that it won’t last long.
Yuvraj, a slum dweller, also doesn’t know how long his landlord would allow to reside in the jhuggi near AIIMS without paying rent.
Yuvraj is among the around 25,000 Nepalese who are living in the capital to somehow eke out a living. They mainly worked in hotels and restaurants as waiters and cooks and as guards at various establishments. Some used to sell Chinese food on handcarts. A majority of them have lost their income and have no savings to fall back on.
What makes things even more difficult for them is that most of them do not have Aadhaar cards and neither are they listed among the BPL residents of the state. That makes it impossible for them to access the food grains being provided to the poor at subsidised rates by the government.
The Madhya Pradesh Nepali Samaj – an organisation of the people of Nepali origin living in the state – has very limited resources. It has appealed to the state government to help them but to no avail. The Nepalese Embassy has also not responded to their distress messages. In fact, they say, the Nepalese Embassy even issued a statement saying that the Nepalese living in India are facing no problems due to the lockdown.
Many of them are seeking help on Twitter and Facebook. “We cannot even walk all the way to Nepal. It is thousands of km away. And moreover, what will we do there? After all, he had come to India because we had nothing to do there,” says one of them.