NEW DELHI, India
Muslim charities and other voluntary organizations are helping the poor in India during a nationwide lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
As of Thursday, the death toll from the coronavirus had reached 423 and the number of positive cases 12,456, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
As the Indian government extended the lockdown until early May, the poor and migrant workers who survive on daily wages do not even have enough money to support basic household expenses.
With no work during the last three weeks in the first phase of the shutdown, they have suffered the most sitting idle at home.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that implementation of the lockdown would be strictly guaranteed in the coming days to ensure that the virus does not spread to new areas. It means more difficult days for the deprived sections of society.
Laborers and migrant workers were left without food and shelter when Modi suddenly declared a 21-day nationwide lockdown last month. The lockdown was set to end on April 14 but has been extended until May 3.
Helping those in need
But soup kitchens and charity groups came to their rescue. Apart from various organizations in India, Muslim charity groups and individuals in their personal capacity have been trying to ensure these people do not go to bed hungry.
The Humanitarian Relief Society is involved in relief operations during the lockdown in various districts in the southern state of Karnataka.
Its general secretary, Mohammed Makakada, said they have distributed $200,000 worth of food items to the poor.
“We give food kits to the poor. A single kit contains food items worth around $16 (1,200 rupees). These were given to poor people and migrant workers from other states,” Makakada told Anadolu Agency.
“We plan to continue our relief work until May 3. We are also working with Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, [a Muslim organization], and they are assisting the poor and other migrant workers regardless of their religion,” he added.
The Amoomat Society, another charity based in Hyderabad city in the southern state of Telangana, has been distributing cooked food to around 200 people daily.
Most of them are migrant workers from different states in India who got stuck in Hyderabad due to the sudden lockdown, said the group's general secretary Khalida Parveen.
“We are giving them ready-to-eat food as they are very poor and don’t have anything to eat. We will continue to offer this food to them, as it will be impossible for them to survive without help,” Parveen told Anadolu Agency.
"Earlier, we faced some problems because of police restrictions. But now they have permitted us to distribute food,” she added.
Students Islamic Organization of India is also helping the needy during these difficult times.
"Being a student organization, initially, we worked to provide food and temporary accommodation to students as the lockdown was sudden and several students were stranded in their rented rooms or hostels and needed support. Later, we decided to help migrant laborers. We continued our work to provide succor to them. We are carrying out relief work in different cities," said the organization’s general secretary Syed Azharuddin.
Azharuddin said their organization has been providing cooked food as well as rations or food supplies to laborers besides helping them obtain rations being provided by the government.
"We helped around 100,000 laborers, most of them from the states of Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. We are working in 24 states with 1,000 helpline centers and around 10,000 volunteers,” he told Anadolu Agency.
“Till now, we have reached out to about 50,000 families with ration kits, as many state governments announced they would provide help to the workers but delayed in issuing the rice and wheat to the poor,” he added.
Free meal at bread bank
The Roti (Bread) Bank of Bhopal in the central state of Madhya Pradesh to fight hunger is also working diligently to provide food to the needy at this time. The NGO was founded in 2018 by Muslim philanthropist Mohammad Yasir to provide free food to the poor.
Following the lockdown, 500-700 people are having their meals daily at the center.
Yasir said his work increased almost three-fold after the lockdown as so many people have been rendered jobless and depend on the NGO for their meals.
He explained how some people have come forward to help the needy.
"We tell people that while cooking food at their homes, they should prepare some extra food and donate it to us. They give us the food and we give that food to the people visiting us,” Yasir said.
Anyone in need can come and have a meal there.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.