Youths of Sikh community step forward to provide food for students from the Northeast stuck in New Delhi due to lockdown Credit: Facebook

New Delhi: In a humanitarian act, a gurudwara at Subhas Nagar in New Delhi has taken the lead to help students from Northeast India stuck in the capital city.

Six Sikh youths of the gurudwara — Amandeep Singh, Kirpal Singh, Jagjeet Singh, Tarnjeet Singh, Ranjeet Singh and Harmeet Singh — have volunteered to cook food as per the taste of Northeastern students. The students mostly include students who had finished their coaching for UPSC, IIT, MBBS and other competitive examinations and have been stuck in Delhi since the COVID-19 lockdown was announced.

Food distributed by Helping Hands, NECC and Delhi Police to Northeastern students staying in Delhi

“The gurudwara has been doing it ever since the lockdown was announced but the food provided in lanagars and other services are not palatable for Northeastern students since they are not used to eating spicy food. Moreover, Northeastern people being shy and introvert and due to racism issues do not go out asking for help. While Helping Hands and NECC have been distributing ration to students living in PGs, there are also many who do not have gas stoves, so we needed cooked food to be delivered to them. That is when the six youths came forward and said that they will prepare food separately as per the taste of Northeastern students. These will include simple food with less spice in them and have been doing it since yesterday itself,” said Deoraj Gurung, co-founder of North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), Delhi who have been distributing food to Northeastern students stuck in Delhi.

The students will have to produce identification provided by their respective institutions and the food will be delivered to them by Helping Hands, NECC and Delhi Police. The cooked food is distributed in several areas in North Delhi such as Karol Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, Mukherjee Nagar, Munirka, Burari, Vijaynagar, Jawahar Nagar, Kishangarh, Satya Niketan and Moti Bagh as these include a large number of students. So far, 120 students have been identified; however a majority of them are those who were on their way back home and got stuck due to the lockdown.

“There are also a large number of students who were on their way back to their respective states in Northeast and got stuck in Delhi. Around 68 of the 120 students have been residing in Delhi while a large number of students were on their way back from places like Rajasthan, Dehradun, etc. Since the lockdown was announced they have been stuck at their friends’ place,” Gurung added.

Fund crunch

Meanwhile, lack of funds now stands as a hurdle in continuing the noble deed as those involved in the process have not received much financial support. Delhi houses a large number of students from the Northeastern states and reaching out to all of them is a mammoth task to achieve, as per Gurung.

“There are so many people from Northeast who have nowhere to go. Apart from students, there are other people such as migrant labourers without IDs who are in dire need and we are not sure for how long we will be able to help them. Even all the Bhawans are closed, so now we are only dependent on crowdfunding,” Gurung said.

Both the organisations have started a crowdfunding process through Ketto and are hoping to have more people coming forward to help them. They are also reaching out to people through social media platforms however, the initiative is yet to see donations from Northeastern states.

Yet to receive aid

While some relief have been provided to northeasterns by their respective state governments, there are many from Manipur who are yet to receive any support despite aid to help them out being announced by the state government. Many from the state who are now stuck in Delhi have not been able to avail the support provided by the government due to their failure in producing an identification of Manipur and possess IDs from Delhi.

These mostly include migrant labourers who had traveled to the country’s capital and the NCR in search of jobs and are now stuck due to the lockdown. On April 7, Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh announced to extend financial assistance to those stranded in various parts of the country. It was also informed that those stranded and are in need of financial support may visit the website and fill up the necessary information.

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