Students and alumni of Kolkata’s prestigious universities have come forward with an initiative of helping the migrant workers and the poor affected by the ongoing lockdown imposed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
The students, current and former ones, of Presidency University (PU), Jadavpur University (JU) and University of Calcutta (CU) have formed groups to distribute food and ration in Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and West Bengal.
They are a part of an initiative called the Quarantined Student-Youth Network.
“We have been able to cater to about 1,500 people so far. We have a list of another 1,200 people (who need help), of which 400 are from Bhalswa in Northwest Delhi and 300 in Karol Bagh. We will also be reaching out to 330 children in Wazirpur Industrial area (Delhi),” PU alumnus Debojit Thakur told The Federal from Delhi.
Thakur said the students’ group is also running a community kitchen in Kolkata and they are aiming to cater to about 5,500 people across the state with food and ration through similar initiatives.
“We’ve reached out to 50 people in Hyderabad as well,” he said.
While the community kitchen in south Kolkata is feeding the homeless, migrant and daily wage labourers, the students are also raising funds to help the vendors around their universities with medicines and essentials.
Speaking about the student-led initiative, Thakur said, “Students from JU, PU and CU had started the Quarantined Student-Youth Network. People who were related to us in various ways; we called them up and said let’s do it. That’s how it started.”
The group was already active in Delhi in the post-riots period earlier this year. “We had already collected around ₹4.5 lakh from Kolkata for helping the riot-affected. We had distributed dry ration and essentials to around 200 people. Meanwhile, the lockdown had started. Since we already had a network we continued this,” said Thakur.
The group started focusing on Delhi after an SOS call from a local at Malviya Nagar Khirki Extension. “People offered us their storage for storing our ration, and a doctor offered us his car as well. A team was made in this way. There were others helping us with the technicalities,” he said.