Commonwealth Games and the upheaval in common lives
Neha Sethi | September 27, 2010
Meena, 40, has been living and working in Gurgaon for more than 10 years. She hails from Chhapra in Bihar but Gurgaon is home to her now. Bihar is just where she goes to meet her relatives not more than once a year. She is as much a resident of Gurgaon as her posh neighbours who populate the plush condominiums and penthouses.
Yet, the local police is out to label her an outsider. She is not alone. The police has been harassing lakhs of labourers like her who work as maids, drivers, guards and cleaners, and make Gurgaon liveable for the others. Most of them belong to states like Bihar and West Bengal. Suddenly all of them have come to comprise a possible 'security threat' to the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
The police is asking them to prove their identity by furnishing their voter identity cards. “Though I have my voter identity card, many others do not, and they are having a tough time these days,” says Meena. She lives in a building which is home to 40-45 other people like her. “There were five boys and a woman who were told by the police to leave Gurgaon for a month. They had no choice but to leave a few days ago,” she adds.
Meena says the ones living in slums are facing more problems than the ones living in other areas. Dheeraj, 45, who works as a cleaner in the Sushant Lok area was told to go to Bihar for a month by the police. “He came on Sunday to take his salary and said that he would be coming back only after a month now,” Indu Khanna, his employer said.
There have been various reports of the police having taken hordes of people to the railway stations, put them on trains and told them to return only by November. Meena says many of them will not have money to sustain their families without work and money for a month. “Almost all of them earn enough only to feed their families. How will they eat during this month?” she asks.
Most of them are hoping that September 30 will be the last day the police sends people back but this doesn’t seem to be the end of their problems. “We have also heard that the police might not let us go to work from October 3 even though they have allowed us to stay back,” says Meena. She says she has heard rumours about policemen being deployed in their area to not let any of them go to work. “But I won’t let them stop me. I have a voter identity card and my employer needs me,” she says confidently.
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