Over 2,000 people who have been deprived of daily earnings because of the lockdown were on Friday given a week’s ration by an all-faith network.
The people who got the ration were rickshaw-pullers, mutiyas (people who ferry load on vans or on their backs), workers at closed fast-food stalls and others. They were from different faiths but were united in loss of livelihood and had families staring at starvation.
The givers, like the receivers, were also made up of people from different faiths. The aid was organised by the United Interfaith Foundation India, which comprises social workers and leaders from multiple religions.
The distribution of the ration happened in two phases on Friday. The first lot was distributed from the Burhani Mosque, run by the Dawoodi Bohra community, in Topsia. The second round happened on Zakaria Street, in front of Nakhoda Mosque.
Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of the archdiocese of Calcutta; Moulana Md. Shafique, the imam of Nakhoda Masjid; and Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, the general secretary of the United Interfaith Foundation, were among the leaders who distributed cereals and pulses to the needy.
A pack contained two kilos each of rice and potato, one-and-a-half kilos of onion, a kilo of daal, 500gm oil and a pack of biscuits.
At both spots, a long queue of people waited to receive the ration. But everyone maintained social distancing and stood inside white circles drawn with chalk on the road. Most of the givers and takers wore masks. Some of the givers wore gloves, too.
“The stuff should last for a week. We will give fresh stock after that. This will continue till the lockdown is lifted,” said Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, general secretary of the foundation.
“We can do our bit by being present and reaching out. Though it is not a lot but something. It is not easy for people to come out because of the other restrictions during the lockdown and social distancing has to be maintained,” said archbishop Thomas D’Souza.
The network of volunteers of the foundation had done a detailed profiling of the people in several localities to prepare a list of close to 5,000 recipients. “Over 2,000 got the ration on Friday and the rest will get it tomorrow from Gurdwara Behala and another spot,” said an organiser.
He said the reach of different religious leaders in their respective areas was extremely helpful in preparing the list.
“Several festivals, like Mahavir Jayanti, Shab-e-Barat, Easter, Baisakhi and the Bengali New Year are coming up. We requested all the people who got ration today to celebrate these festivals inside their homes and not step out,” said Ahluwalia.
“In today’s circumstances, where daily wage earners have no livelihood, we urge the privileged to share with their brethren with an open heart,” said Taher Faizuilabhoy, secretary of the Dawoodi Bohra Jamaat Trust of Calcutta.
Source: The Telegraph