Lockdown leaves migrants jobless, moneyless, homeless
by Nirmala Carvalho

“No one has a place for us. We build cities, posh houses; yet we don't even have a mattress to lie down and sleep,” one migrant said.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The situation of migrants continues to be difficult. When the lockdown was imposed, it came with only a four-hour notice, leaving many of them homeless, jobless and angry.

AsiaNews met a group of them, desperately trying to find a place to stay in any migrant relief camp. They said they were all skilled labourers.

“From the time of the lockdown, we have been out of work, without money, without a place to stay. We have been moving from place to place, avoiding the police, who beat us up.

“We stayed under the flyover for a few nights, hiding from the police, but we were caught and chased away. Now we have been told that there is a migrant relief camp, but we are not allowed in. They told us that the police must bring us here, that we cannot come on our own.”

Shakir Ali (pictured, in the blue shirt) hails from Amravati, Maharashtra. He is a skilled mason. AsiaNews asked him if he was fasting for Ramadan.

"Madam, on the first day, I began my fast, but it is almost impossible,” he explained. “There is nothing available for us here; we are only wandering to escape the police, without money or shelter, or a proper place to wash and clean up. How can I fast like a good Muslim? I am a skilled worker, but people here are giving us food, like charity.”

Ali opened his bag and showed a banana, lunch boxes and a bottle of water. "I have nothing, I have been here without dignity for a month.”

Ravi Marathe, from Sawanatiwadi, wears a green shirt and a green mask. “Our plight is pathetic,” he told AsiaNews. “I have absolutely no money, I am a skilled mason, building houses for people in Mumbai.” But now, “No one has a place for us. We build cities, posh houses; yet we don't even have a mattress to lie down and sleep.

“For a month we have been living under flyovers or in the streets. We are treated so badly; police beat us for roaming during the lockdown. We don't want to roam around.”

The authorities should “make arrangements to send us home; we have houses in our villages. We came to work, to earn (a living), to live with dignity, but here we are given food for charity.”

Asked why people are not allowed into the migrant relief camp, the watchman said that “they have not been tested.”