GANDHINAGAR: Women representing over thousand families living in the slums of Bhilvaas in Sardarnagar of Ahmedabad defied curfew orders and the scorching sun to protest against lack of food supplies. “Not Corona, but hunger will kill us”, read placards held by hungry daily earners who gathered at a dusty plot to let the government know about their plight.

Around one thousand families in the shanties are stuck with dwindling supplies and avenues for earning due to lockdown. “My husband has broken his leg and can’t go to work. So I run the family. However, for many days we could neither work nor earn a penny,” said Madhuben Bhil who works as a domestic help . “It hurts to talk about hunger, sir, but my children are clamouring for food and I have nothing to give them,” says Anita in her 20s. Like Madhu, she too works as a domestic help. “No one has paid us our salaries and now many have been sacked,” she said.

As one enters the slum, the impact of the lockdown turns starker. Some residents have been living here for a long time but many from the other states are stuck and look forward to return home as their patience and money run out. Rajkumari Yadav had come to Ahmedabad from Ayodhya about a year back with her husband Babulal Yadav, who needed a surgery for his mouth cancer. After the treatment, the Yadav family is stuck here for more than a month and waiting for the lockdown to end. Nearby, another family hosts seven guests from Rajasthan, who got stuck in the lockdown.

“Initially we got some supplies from the government and couple of local counsellors,” said Amrit Salat, who drives an autorickshaw. “But soon all of it dried up and now there is no one to listen to us. Now every time a rickshaw enters the area, our children run behind it hoping it has some food. The government did give us some wheat and rice, but what do we do with it? We also need vegetables and cooking oil for a meal,” said Lakshmi Salat. “We neither have the money to buy things for ourselves, nor the way to earn. Neither is anyone giving us what we need. How do we survive,” she asked.

The stress of lockdown and joblessness saw Kanu Solanki, a daily wager committing suicide in Ramdevnagar area of Ahmedabad on Sunday.

When contacted, Ahmedabad collector KK Nirala promptly sent officials to take a stock of the situation. “We are trying to take care of as many people as possible without caring about the numbers,” Nirala said. “Already more than 80,000 food packets have been distributed across Ahmedabad on Tuesday and we shall definitely take care of these people too,” he added.

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