Horrors Of The Covid-19 Lockdown On Daily Wage Workers

Upasana Gohain

History will keep a record of the fatal Covid-19 global pandemic that has shattered the normal lifestyle of mankind on earth. In 2020, when the world was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, little did the people know that it would change lives forever for some.

While thousands and thousands of people had to breathe their last, many others survived alone without the shadow of their family members. Many lost their jobs, while many lost their homes.

India became one of the worst-hit countries by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, which have not only felt the loss in the country’s economy but also in its manpower due to the long Covid-19 lockdown from 2020 to 2021.

With time, when the world is slowly trying to bring things back to normal, India too, is continuing its fight. But even though things might seem to have come back to normalcy, a section of people are still struggling to get over the horrors of the lockdown for the pandemic.

Daily wage workers who are the sole breadwinners of their family and the only mode of earning in their lives have been small food stalls and shops, are still finding it hard to cope up with the changing destiny thrown upon them.

Pratidin Time went on an operation around the Panbazar area in Guwahati to find out stories of such daily wage workers and shopkeepers who had to shut down their only source of income after finding it more than difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jali Hussain Ali, a food stall owner in the Panbazar area in front of the Cotton University MNDP Boys Hostel had to shut down his food stall forever as he could no longer earn his bread through that food stall.

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As expressed by the food stall shopkeepers and owners near that of Jali’s shop, Jali’s food stall used to have the maximum number of customers before the Covid-19 pandemic. He was a jolly-natured and fun-loving young man who used to laugh and talk with his customers who visited his shop.

Unfortunately, the Government declared a long nationwide covid-19 lockdown all around India which affected Jali and his growing family to the extreme and he could no longer become financially stable enough to restart his own food stall which once used to be so much crowded.

A few of Jali’s friends from the Panbazar area also said that he had debts to pay.

“As far we know, Jali had debts to be paid as he was planning to build a house for his family. But then the lockdown happened and we all had to live in misery. Jali could not open his shop anymore. We didn’t see him again,” said a shopkeeper who used to be a friend of Jali Hussain Ali.

Babu Das, a tea seller in the Panbazar area of Guwahati had to give up his rented stall during the Covid-19 lockdown as he could not pay the monthly rents during the lockdown. Babu Das is a resident of North Guwahati and is now working as a daily wage laborer.

“Babu Das used to sell tea. He used to rent his stall but after the lockdown, Babu did not come back,” said another tea seller who used to know Babu Das.

These are just two stories of the thousands of small workers who used to earn their daily bread and butter from the income they earn from their small shops. The Covid-19 lockdown had made the lives difficult for many Jalis and Babus around and across India whose stories remain unknown and unheard.

Although the government tried their best to regain the rebuilt the loss due to the pandemic, who will be responsible for the destruction of lives of these daily wage workers in and around India?

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