At a time when India is talking about the horrific plight of migrant laborers, many of whom have had to walk for days without food and water to reach their native villages in far-away states, a tucked-away little slum-like cluster at Harijan Colony in the heart of Gurugram celebrated Eid with gusto, albeit muted due to the spread of the virus.
The cluster is home to over 200 people—all migrants, who have mostly come from West Bengal and Bihar in search of jobs to work as house helps, drivers, gardeners or guards. The place is home to Hindu as well as Muslim families—all living together celebrating each other’s festivals—be it Diwali, Dusshehra or Eid.
While many migrant laborers have left the cities after the nationwide lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, families living in this colony have stayed back.
“I am working as a house help, earning Rs 12,000 a month while my husband works in one of the residential complexes as a sanitization worker. He gets Rs 15,000 a month. I have no reason to return to my native village, I haven’t been going for work since the lockdown but I have been paid,” Rinku Das, one of the residents said.
Das, who lives with her family in just a small room is happy. Her neighbor, Jesminnah Sekh, who hails from Nadia district in West Bengal echoes the same sentiment.
Das’ son also goes to a nearby government school. When asked if he has been missing school, she pointed out that the teachers have been taking classes through WhatsApp.
Most importantly, they said that irrespective of their faiths, people living in the cluster have been helping each other with food, money, or any other assistance during the lockdown period.
Sekh and Das said that none from the cluster has returned home, though apprehensions are now beginning to grow. They said people may leave only once things improve so that they do not get stuck on the way.
“In case we have to go back home, we will take the train, we are not in any desperate condition, and we do not want to panic” Sekh said.
The millennium city is full of slum-like clusters, all tucked away from the glare. But these clusters have been providing the much needed support to the society here..