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“This was our worst Eid ever,” say Muslim migrant workers stuck at quarantine centres away from home

By Bilal Khan, TwoCircles.net

This Eid was different for every Muslim in India due to the ongoing lockdown in place to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus. With the ban on congregations, Muslims did not participate in customary Eid prayers. However, for the Muslim migrants – thousands of kilometres away from home, Eid was a dreary affair.

TwoCircles.net spoke to migrant workers who managed to leave Mumbai and reach their native cities but found themselves in quarantine centres. Some Muslims migrants in quarantine centres managed to see some of their family members and share food but some failed to even have food on the table, while some migrants could not even celebrate Eid despite being home quarantined.

Mohammed Askari who was working in a leather bag manufacturing shop in Dharavi left for his native place, Mau district, Uttar Pradesh when he realized that he couldn’t survive in Mumbai during the lockdown. He was happy that he was asked to be quarantined for 14 days in his home (i.e. home quarantine). However, his happiness faded when he saw his relatives’ reactions who stayed nearby his house. They did not even want to receive Eid wishes from him.

“People are behaving with me as if I am a coronavirus carrier. After getting ready for Eid, I opened my room window so that I can wish people for Eid. However, they asked me to close the window and don’t show my face,” Mohammed told TwoCircle.net.

“I don’t have coronavirus. I have not gotten out of my room since I came here. I was waving my hands through my window and practising social distancing but the reactions from people really saddened me,” added Mohammed.

Another migrant worker, Naushad Shaikh, from Bihar also had a sad Eid. He left Dharavi 10 days ago and ended up being quarantined in a centre in Siwan district. He is not happy with the facilities at the centre. No proper food, no soap, no sanitizers are provided, and no cleanliness is maintained at the quarantine centre. On Eid, he woke up early, took shower and wore new clothes.

“I thought we would be provided with some sweet food because of Eid, but nothing special was there. I then asked my family members to bring some sheer korma and Biryani for me,” said Shaikh.

Naushad could only wish his elder brother from afar when he came to deliver sheer korma to him.

Naushad said that this Eid was his worst Eid ever.

“I never imagined that I would have to spend Eid sitting in one place and not able to meet my family and friends. Every year, I would celebrate Eid with my family at my native home. But this time I am here in quarantine centre. I am praying that coronavirus will go away soon so that we get back to normal life,” added Shaikh.

Another Muslim migrant worker Imtiyaz Alam who is also from Bihar said that he missed his previous Eid with his family. “We don’t have any other option than to stay here in a quarantine centre to fight against the virus. But, I really had a very disappointing day on Eid. I hope the situation gets over soon. I am really missing my parents, children and wife,” he said.

Not all migrant workers had a sad and dreary Eid. Some Muslim migrants were quarantined at good centres where workers made the day of Eid memorable.

Hayat Shaikh was staying in Bandra for work but left for his native place in Kendrapara, Odisha, and now is staying at a quarantine centre 80 kilometres away from his village.

However, the quarantine centre has all the facilities such as clean washroom, soap and sanitizers. Cleanliness is maintained in the centre, he said.

According to the migrants staying at the centre, they are provided with good food. Muslim migrants were also provided with Iftari and Sehri during the Ramadan.

Shaikh said that there are 14 Muslim migrant workers at the centre who are from different cities all over India. “We managed to offer Eid prayers while maintaining social distancing,” he said.

They all were provided with a special fish dish and sheer korma.

“My home is far away and travelling is expensive at this time that is why nobody came to see me from my family. I wished everyone over the phone for Eid. But, in the quarantine centre, we celebrated Eid with joy. All people became family for each other. Some of us also danced over some songs to enjoy the day without sadness because of the situation,” added Shaikh.

“I will be leaving the quarantine centre in 2-3 days and then will meet my family members,” he said.

Shaikh said that some officers also came here to wish us for Eid. “They asked us to pray for everyone. I am really happy that they did everything to make sure we are not feeling sad on this auspicious day,” he said.