by Father Mayank Parmar for BISMumbai

The number of COVID-19 affirmative cases are increasing in Gujarat state. Amidst this difficult situation of rising cases and the lockdown, people who have been working in the unorganised rural sector as farm hands are going through an anguishing time. DRISTI Don Bosco Kapadvanj has been able to actively intervene in ensuring the safe passage home of 33 individuals, including 07 minors and a few senior citizens.

Travelling to their home village Ratalia in the DevgadhBariya Taluka of Dahod District, 33 people were held back in Antroli village of the Kapadvanj Block in Kheda District, unable to reach home. On reception of this information, DRISTI staff Shaileshbhai contacted DRISTI DIrector who asked another of his staff, Narendrabhai to verify the information received. The people pleaded with DRISTI staff, saying, "we do not need ration kits. Please help us to reach back to our own home in Ratalia village. That will be the biggest help you can give us."

Following this, Sanjaybhai and Narendrabhai met with the SDM Kapadvanj and obtained 02 transit passes and helped the stranded labourers and their children to board pickup tempo. However, this vehicle was halted by the police at Ladvel Chowkdi, who refused permission fo rthe vehicle to proceed any further. Immediately, Leelaben, the leader of the group making its way home, contacted Shaileshbhai who after discussion with the police on duty, turned the vehicle back to the Mamlatdar's office. Meanwhile, Fathers Mayank Parmar and Ashwin Macwan reached the Mamlatdar's office with snacks for the 33 people. A discussion with the SDM followed, after which a permit letter was given to the home-bound group, allowing them to travel in 02 vehicles.

Shaileshbhai accompanied the group till Ladvel Chowkdi, a video recording was made at Ladvel police checkpoint and since the group had to cross Panchmahal and Dhaod Districts to reach Ratalia village, a volunteer's contact was given, in the event of further obstacles. DRISTI staff was constantly in touch with the vehicle-drivers and the group till the entire group of 33 finally made it to their village and homes by 2230 hrs.

This was a one-off first time incident in the entire Gujarat state, where people with legitimate permit passes were denied home passage. The DRISTI team is very happy to have been of some assistance to these stranded labourers in reaching home.