Places of worship have been avoiding congregations in times of coronavirus but a temple in Balurghat, north Bengal, has allowed another kind of gathering — by sheltering returning migrants hounded out of their own village.
Setting an example for those who are suspicious of all returnees, the temple in Gangasagar village, within Jalghar gram panchayat under the Balurghat police station, has thrown open its 4,000 square feet hall to 22 of 60 workers who recently returned from Maharashtra.
They were among thousands who were returning home to Bengal either by train or bus. The group of 60 had hired a bus for Rs 2.5 lakh to reach Balurghat.
On arrival, they went to the rural hospital at Khaspur, of Balurghat block, where doctors advised them home quarantine. When the 22 from Gangasagar went home, they faced stiff resistance from villagers, who refused to let them in until their swab reports were received.
The hapless returnees then spent the night in a field nearby. Moved by their plight, the temple priests decided to accommodate them on the shrine campus. “To serve humanity is to serve God. We have opened the temple doors to the people who are not allowed in the village,” said head priest Sadananda Giri.
The 22 labourers have since shifted into the hall turned quarantine centre on the temple’s first floor, where they are also being fed by the temple authorities. A bamboo barricade has been put up to isolate the shrine.
Villagers too are happy with the arrangement. “All of them (returnees) are keeping well,” Giri said.
Source: Times of India