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COVID19 audio archive: Desperate times, distress calls and suicidal thoughts

April 20, 2020


COVID19 audio archive: Desperate times, distress calls and suicidal thoughts

Bengaluru: Mobile Vaani, a voice-based social network, has been documenting the impact of the COVID19-induced lockdown on rural communities, farmers, migrant workers and daily wage labourers. A vast majority of these communities have no savings and are ill-prepared to cope with the sudden loss of income and any health consequences, it found earlier, in a survey conducted in collaboration with 101Reporters. 

The extension of the 21-day lockdown further by two weeks until May 3 will exacerbate and add to the woes of these communities, they found. One caller to Mobile Vaani’s Saajha Manch channel spoke about having no access to food or any other aid and feeling suicidal while others brought up the lack of response on government helplines. 

Listen to the voices suffering the lockdown the most:  

Vishal Kumar, a visually-challenged caller from Bihar, said extending the lockdown is sheer injustice. “The government should pause the lockdown for a few days to allow inter-state migrants workers to return home.” 

Anil Kumar Yadav, who is stuck in Surat’s Sitaram society with seven others in a small room, says despite calling several state helplines, they’ve been without food and money for the last eight days. “We now feel like we should commit suicide.” 

Pujari Tiwari, also from Bihar, rued the uselessness of government helplines. Suffering from cough, he called government helplines but the calls were disconnected leaving him without any knowledge about COVID-19 symptoms. 

Twenty-six people working on the widening of NH2, who have been stuck in Jharkhand’s Giridih district, said their employer, Dilip Buildcon (DBL) had abandoned them ever since the lockdown started. “The company sends us no food, or [sometimes] poor quality rice. When we asked the supervisor to send us food, he told us to shut up – this is all you’ll get.” 

Maniket Kumar said migrant workers should be brought home, and that the state should give poor families Rs 10,000 to be able to deal with the lockdown given “we’ve all lost our livelihoods”.