Meet the good samaritans to stranded tourists in Delhi’s Paharganj

New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) It’s a sunny day in Delhi and in normal times the tourists would have been enjoying in the national capital and the hotel staff happily serving them for those extra bucks, but difficult situations have forced both to stand together, wait in queues for food and hope for the lockdown period not to get extended.

With no money left, over 850 tourists and the workers and helpers of the hotels near the New Delhi Railway Station are stranded since the lockdown was announced. For the last 12 days they are being provided food by the Delhi government and NGOs.
Twice a day, the people gather near the gate number one of the New Delhi railway station, which falls in the Paharganj locality, to collect the food brought for them either by the government or the NGOs.
The people, hailing from the different parts of the country, have only demand that the government buy them the rail tickets once the services are resumed to help them reach their homes as they are not left with any money.
Speaking to IANS, Gopal Sarkar, a resident of West Bengal’s Kolkata said, “We had came to visit several places in the month of March. We were supposed to return to Kolkata on March 23 as we had the railway reservation.”
“But suddenly train services were suspended and due to that we were stranded here,” Sarkar said.
He said that along with him there are eight people who are staying in the hotel near the New Delhi Railway station since March 21.
Narrating his ordeal, he said, everyday we stand in queues to get the food. “We are thankful to the people of Delhi and the government for helping us in such times,” he said.
He further said that they have no money left with them to return to their homes and demanded the government to provide them railway reservations once the train services are operational so that they can return their home.
When asked if the hotels, where they have been staying since lockdown was charging money, he said, “They were demanding money earlier. But we complained to the police officials and then they directed the hotel owners not to charge us.”
Savita Das, a resident of Jharkhand’s Jamshedpur has similar problem.
She said, the group of 20 people along with her started their journey on March 15 to visit Vaishno Devi shrine.
“We returned from Vaishno Devi on March 20 and we had the rail tickets for March 21 but our train was cancelled. We had no idea what was happening,” she said.
She said that after the lockdown was announced, they searched for a lode to stay as they had very limited money with them.
“It will be one month on April 15, since the day we came out of our homes. We just demand the government to help us reach our home as our children and relatives are waiting for us,” she added.
The Indian Railways has suspended over 490 trains before the nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24.
And, from March 24 to April 14 the national transporter suspended all the passenger, mail and express train (approximately 13,600 trains) services to combat the spread of Covid-19. Only the freight and special parcel trains are pressed into service to ensure the supply of essential items across the country.
A guest from Assam’s Golaghat has similar problem, as he is also one of them who has been stranded in a hotel due to the 21-day lockdown.
Middle Mohantam said, that he had come for an official purpose in Delhi and was stuck here due to lockdown.
He said, following the lockdown the hotels stopped providing food to the guests.
“And, its the police and the NGOs who are ensuring that we get food everyday,” he added.
Besides the guests, the police is also ensuring that the hotel workers and homeless people of the area also get food everyday.
The police official, wishing not be named said, “We are ensuring that no one is left starving.”
He said, “The food packets that we receive from the Delhi government and NGOs we distribute among the people maintaining social distancing and sanitising.”
He said that the Delhi Police is also ensuring to provide milk and medicines to the people who had kids with them and those who are ill or have been prescribed medicines by their doctors as most of them are not left with any money with them.
On Monday, India recorded 4,067 cases with 109 deaths across the country.
The Delhi government has converted schools into shelter camps in several areas for the homeless and migrants and is serving food to them twice day.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at Anand.s@ians.in)
–IANS
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