Coronavirus outbreak: Handicapped woman desperate to get home amid lockdown
Wheelchair-bound woman's plight proves that those stranded in city are finding it impossible to get out; despair doubles as lockdown is extended
An extension of the lockdown in Maharashtra has spelt more pain for a handicapped woman, who is currently trapped in Mumbai, and desperate to get back to her home in Warangal (Telangana).
Jagjit Kaur Sahani, 50, who lost her right leg in a car accident in 2001 and now uses a wheelchair to get around, arrived in Mumbai by train with her son Puneet, 25, for what was supposed to be a week on March 17.
She takes up the narrative, "My husband passed away due to a sudden heart attack on January 24, this year. We have a custom wherein a married woman visits her mother's home after her husband's death. Since my parents are no more, my brother and his family live in that home which is in Juhu. All was well initially. We had a ticket for March 23 (train no 22127) back home."
Where do we go?
They received a message from the Indian Railways cancelling their train on March 23. To their shock, a lockdown was announced on March 24, and mother and son were marooned in Mumbai. The cancellation of long-distance trains had begun around March 18 as part of the procedure for the impending lockdown. A family misunderstanding on April 7 meant they had to leave the Juhu home at once. They were literally on the streets. A relative then dialled well known activist Teesta Setalvad. Teesta picked up the duo in her personal vehicle and dropped them off to a hotel, where they stayed for a day. After that, they were helped by a relative to move to an accommodation in a building at Andheri East. It is next to impossible to find anywhere to stay as most facilities are closed because of the lockdown.
Trapped in Mumbai
Jagjit said, "The extension of the lockdown means I cannot leave even now. I am running out of money to pay for my accommodation. I am a diabetic, I am at the end of resources here and my spirit. I am hoping for an emergency pass to leave for home."
Life and death
A government official claimed that passes to leave the state are issued in extreme medical emergencies and "life and death situations," though it is not quite spelt out what one means by "life and death." In such cases, people are told to send an email to an address Covid19.email@example.com with all details, after which one presumes they will get an answer whether they will be allowed to travel out of the state and to the destination declared. Jagjit added, "We have sent an email with all details specifying my handicap.
"Because I am on a wheelchair, my mobility is severely affected. I am developing some complications healthwise. I am pleading for help, hope there is some way out," she finished in despair. Like Jagjit, there are others running from pillar to post for a way out. Some of them may be in dire situations in different ways, yet with no specifics on what constitutes absolute emergencies or in what exact categories these exceptional cases fall. The officers have discretionary powers over who will get the green light to leave. Till then, the stranded, like Jagjit will have to wait for the much coveted yes in their email inbox or for the lockdown to be lifted.
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