JAIPUR: Thirty-four members of a Ludhiana-based family, who are stranded in Ajmer since the last one month following the clamping of the nationwide lockdown to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, have seen it all -- poverty, hunger, domestic violence, communal harmony, philanthropy and brotherhood.
Stuck inside the hall of a hotel in the holy city of Rajasthan, all they want now is to return to their homes in Ludhiana.
Fed up of the daily blues, this family is now pleading the state government to permit them to go back to their native place at the earliest.
"Irrespective of caste and creed, we have seen help pouring in from all quarters during this lockdown period. But now we just want to go home," said Sanju, one of the members of the family.
"Our group comprises 10 women, an equal number of men and 14 kids. We came to the Ajmer Sharif Dargah for the first time to offer prayers on March 21. Our return tickets were booked for March 24; however, all trains got cancelled in the wake of the lockdown. We arranged for money by requesting our family members in Ludhiana to deposit some amount in our accounts.
"But now, that money too has been exhausted. Hotel JC Palace has provided us free lodging while the Chishti Foundation has been providing us food thrice a day free of cost. We are thankful to them for all their help. But now we want to go back. It's been over a month now. We have kids, two infants and 12 children ranging from 3 years to 12 years, who are finding it tough to eat rice every day," Sanju told IANS.
Narrating her tale of misery, Sanju's aunt Manto Devi said, "My husband, whom I had forced to come with me, has assaulted me several times, blaming me for bringing him here. I had requested him to come along to offer prayers; however, now each day I am being subjected to his abuses. Our kids are refusing to eat what is being served to them. There is complete chaos here. We are staying in a hall here, and depression, anxiety and loneliness are killing us as no one knows for how long we will have to stay here."
Sanju said, "We have now requested donors to give us ration kit and have started cooking in the same hall as a stove has been arranged by the philanthropists. However, it's equally dangerous for all of us to stay here in one hall, cook and sleep at the same place. Also, the ever increasing number of Covid-19 patients is also giving us sleepless nights."
Ajmer has crossed the 100-patient mark, reporting 114 Covid-19 cases so far. Eight new cases were reported on Saturday.
"I request Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to look into the issue," Sanju said, adding that the family had come to pray for boosting their business avenues in the long run, but is stuck in the wake of this unseen calamity.
Meanwhile, Syed Salman Chishty, hereditary custodian, Ajmer Sharif Dargah, and Chairman, Chishty Foundation, made a humble appeal to Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and the CMO to coordinate the return of the pilgrims staying at different hotels and guest houses around the Dargah.
Speaking to IANS, he said around 4,000 people from different parts of the country are stuck in Ajmer. They had come here for 'ziyarat', but have been stranded following the snapping of transportation facilities.
"Although the Dargah Committee, among others, has been supplying basic food and other essentials to the pilgrims since March 20, the pilgrims now want to go home more than anything else. We request to the Chief Minister and the CMO to make the necessary arrangements for their return as soon as possible, in compliance with the Central government guidelines. We look forward to hear from the officials soon," said Syed Salman Chishty.