Kashmir Indepth

Laborers struggle to feed families amid lockdown


Srinagar, May 01(KINS): As world observed Labour Day on Friday, thousands of laborers in Kashmir are struggling to feed their families amid COVID-19 lockdown.

Labour Day or International Workers’ Day is observed each year on the first day of May to celebrate achievements of the working class. The day, also called as ‘May Day’, is also observed as a public holiday in many countries.

Amid this thousands of laborers in Kashmir including daily wagers in various government departments are finding it hard to feed their families.

“This lockdown has put a laborer like me in deep trouble. It is very difficult for laborers to feed their families,” Mohammad Shafi, who was selling footwear on a footpath in Srinagar, told news agency KINS.

These days he is sitting idle at home. “I debited Rs 1000 from one of relatives that have been exhausted,” he added.

The safaikaramcharis of SMC who are forefront to contain the COVID-19 are also without salaries for months.

“We are without salaries for last three months. In times of plague, the safaikaramcharis are working day and night. We are struggling to feed our families,” one of the safaikaramcharis said.

A non-local laborer Shahid said he has not a single penny in my pocket.

“We don’t have money even to buy medicines. My father and mother are worried about me. We won’t die by coronavirus but by hunger,” said visibly upset Shahid.

Similarly, daily wagers of J&K Cements are without salaries for months. “Our officials are getting their monthly salaries. Nobody is concerned about us. We can’t tell you how we feed our families,” one of the daily wagers of J&K Cements said, wishing not to be quoted by name.

Satish Kumar, a labourer from Uttar Pradesh has been working in Kashmir for last eight years. He is lodged in one of government buildings in south Kashmir.

“Our families are worried about our safety. I have seen 2010 and 2016 lockdown but this time it is scary to stay here. We are even not able to make a video call to our families due to low internet speed. We want to leave for our home as soon as possible. We want to survive to see the faces of our family members,” Kumar said in an anxious tone.

He said some locals helped them and provided food. “But everyone is running for his safety. If anyone gets infected, he can disseminate it to others. We (laborers) are prone to get infected as we don’t sanitize ourselves. How can we avoid any possible transmission of the virus when we are not able to maintain any distance,” he asked.(KINS)

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