ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Down and Out in Ahmedabad

Migrant workers, who are often landless labourers, seek succour and refuge in night shelters mandated by the Supreme Court of India.

Early in the evening of 5 March, the day the citizens of Ahmedabad were celebrating the festival of Holi, the night shelter was still closed when I came to meet the homeless inmates who have found this place a haven to sleep in at the end of a long working day. A Supreme Court order mandates large cities in each and every state of India to set up night shelters—one for every lakh inhabitants—to cater to the needs of those who have no abode to stay at the end of the workday.

Manchok, a seasonal migrant from the tribal hinterland of Gujarat, stood in front of the locked gate of the night shelter, alongside his wife and their three kids. Manchok came to Ahmedabad because, as a landless labourer, he could not find enough work at home to subsist. Both he and his wife are hired on a daily-wage basis and taken to a building site by a contractor. But the job does not come with any sort of accommodation.

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