Coronavirus in Mumbai: Since lockdown, homeless left without a bite to eat

Mumbai: Since the government imposed a lockdown from Monday, restricting the movement of people on the roads, one of the hardest hit are the homeless, who call the streets their home. Already without shelter, now they have been stripped of their livelihoods as well, as most of them are daily wagers.

Mumbai is 'home' to almost two lakh homeless people, who now find themselves entirely at the mercy of others for food. However, no one is on the streets and not many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are working during this crisis, exacerbating the plight of the homeless.

As the outbreak of CoVID-19 began to spread, the government began to shut down everything and this has hit daily wagers the hardest. Some of them tried to leave the city and go back home but now, even travel is restricted, making the streets of Mumbai the only place for them.

"Beggars in the city work in an organised manner. However, the homeless work independently and most of them are daily wage workers. We do provide them with food in crisis situations but this time, even we are unable to do so because of the restrictions imposed and the scare of coronavirus," said Brijesh Arya, convener of the Homeless Collective.

"We are talking to vendors and shopkeepers to prepare food packets which we try to send out to the homeless through our volunteers. The government should also do something for them and also protect them from the pandemic. We are ready to help the government," he added.

On Tuesday night, a Tardeo police patrol team near Haji Ali junction found a 55-year-old homeless person sitting on the edge of the road. When the Assistant Police Inspector (API) Arun Thorat offered him Rs 100, he refused it, saying he had been starving for the last six days as hardly anyone turned up at Haji Ali Dargah and at Mahalaxmi temple.

The police team, moved by his plight, gave him an apple and a packet of pulao from their meal. The policemen told him to stop by their police chowky nearby and assured him that food would be arranged for him in any situation.

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