A survey by a non-profit organisation in Mumbai’s Shivaji Nagar and Baiganwadi after the lockdown was imposed found that more than 1000 families are struggling to arrange foodgrains as they don’t have ration cards. The MLA of the area denied extending his help citing already helping people.

Anil Vishwakumar from Govandi’s Baiganwadi was working as a security guard earning Rs. 15000 a month is now dependent on the cooked food provided by local NGOs in the area. “I have not received my salary for three months despite working 12 hours every day. This lockdown made our situation worsen,” said Anil.

Anil was abandoned by his parents after his wedding because of some family issues. Hence he can’t avail the benefits of subsidized foodgrains on his family’s ration card. “My parents don’t allow me to use the ration card. Me, my wife and two children stay separately from parents,” asserted Anil. He further said that he stays in a rented house.

Another resident from Shivaji Nagar, Abdul Qadir, told that he is a daily labourer and used to earn Rs. 600 the day when he had work. He has four family members. His younger son is studying in junior college.

“I earn just hand to mouth. This lockdown has made it hard to survive for us. An NGO people provided us with a foodgrains kit a few days ago. I am also borrowing some money from known people for other expenses,” told Abdul. Abdul doesn’t have a ration card and stays in a rented house.

A resident of Baiganwadi on the condition of anonymity said, “People say cooked food are being distributed to everyone in the area regularly. However, I don’t receive it consistently. I don’t know what to do in this situation.” The resident also said that he received a kit of ration at the beginning of April which has already finished.

Anil, Andul and the anonymous person are from that list of more than 1000 families surveyed by Student Islamic Organisation (SIO), Govandi Team, in Shivaji Nagar and Baiganwadi. While talking to Yasir Abdullah from the SIO Govandi team, it was revealed that they (families in the list) are the ones who have no money to buy food and no ration cards to avail subsidized foodgrains.

“They are now totally dependent on cooked food being provided by some NGOs. Some of them have got food grains by some NGOs long ago which is almost finished,” said Yasir.

SIO along with its parent organisation Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) have helped 8,38,417 people across the country, at a cost of around Rs 10 crore. According to their official website, they have distributed 5,80,519 food kits, 4,32,228 cooked food packets, 38,8852 face masks and 3,970 sanitizers. They have also extended financial help to 10,06,553 people and other services to 44,503 people

In the hope of some help, the Govandi SIO team approached MLA of the area, Abu Asim Azmi, through social media. They received a response but turned out to be of no sufficient help.

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“A representative of the Abu Asim sir called us saying they can only provide cooked food for about 70 people. But, the families need foodgrains so that they can have food for a few days regularly. Cooked food won’t help,” said Yasir. He further told the reason for foodgrains request by the MLA, “because a kit of foodgrains lasts up to 10-15 days. Means a family can have a surety that they will have food to put on the tables for a few days.”

Apart from being an MLA of the area who belongs to Samajwadi Party, Abu Asim Azmi has assets of a whopping Rs. 209 crore. According to reports, he is one of the richest Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA). The wealth and position both prove that Abu Asim can easily help needy people of his constituency who are surviving on a half-empty stomach.

Aub Asim claims that his team has been providing cooked food to thousands of people in one of his constituency areas, Rafi Nagar, and distributing food kits to many.

“MLAs should take responsibility for their respective areas and help every needy person. If they don’t help us now then when they are going to help us?” asked Meraj Ali Shaikh, a resident from Shivaji Nagar. Another residents also saked, “If area corporators and MLAs will not help us then where do we receive help from?”

Also Read: Migrant workers in Dharavi struggle to survive this lockdown, want to go back home