lørdag 4. april 2020

‘I just want to go home’: the desperate millions hit by Modi’s brutal lockdown

For more than a decade, Begum Jan had managed to survive on the streets of Kolkata. A longtime wheelchair-user, she had a specific spot on a busy street. Rickshaw drivers and passers-by always made sure she had something to eat. But last week, for the first time since she became homeless after falling ill with tuberculosis and losing her job as a housemaid, the 62-year-old was in danger of starving.

“For the past week, none of these people who usually help me have come in sight,” she said, her voice cracking with sadness. “They are all at home because of the lockdown; they don’t have any job and so they cannot help me any more.”

When prime minister Narendra Modi announced almost two weeks ago that India’s entire population of 1.3bn people would be under lockdown for at least three weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, it was the largest restriction of movement the world had ever seen. The consequences for India, where tens of millions live in poverty, work thousands of miles from home, often living where they work, have been cataclysmic.