Krishna Khakhlari (42) a native of Assam, has been a guest worker in the unorganized sector in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala since 2015. He is a daily wage worker and the only breadwinner of the family. He has a grandmother, wife and three girl children back at home. He proved very industrious in his work and sent home all the money that he earned. The welfare of his family was uppermost in his mind. He was staying in a rented room in Thiruvallam along with eight other guest workers from different states.
His regular life took a U-turn on 11 June 2020. On his way by cycle to his job, he collided against an electrical post at Vandithadam, sustaining a severe head injury. He was taken to Medical College Thiruvananthapuram, where he was admitted for ten days. The doctors finally confirmed that the severe injury had caused his paralysis from the waist downwards, and he would not be able to move independently. He was shattered when he came to know that he was going to be a burden for his roommates. He was bedridden and his roommates found it inconvenient to continue living with him in the same room. All of them moved out except Santosh from Odisha, who looked after him well until he was taken home on the 21 July 2020.
The Assistant Labour Officer, Mr. Abhilash informed KISMAT about Krishna’s case on 22 June 2020, as he knew KISMAT supported the needs of the migrant workers all over Kerala. KISMAT visited Krishna the same day and realised that they had no food and medicine because of the COVID 19 lockdown and the restriction on movement. KISMAT provided provisions and medicines for them until Krishna was taken home.
Krishna had only one thing on his mind: to reach home as soon as possible. KISMAT consulted with his doctors in the medical college, collected his reports and a travel fitness certificate from his doctor, who suggested that it would be better to transport him by air. KISMAT contacted the Labour Commissioner for assistance. He assured us that the state government would bear the transport expenses since Krishna was a guest worker. We contacted an agency in Delhi and they were willing to sponsor flight tickets for Krishna and a caretaker. However, flights were irregular and only connection flights were available, so we dropped the idea of taking him by air.
As negotiations were on, a complete shutdown was announced in Thiruvananthapuram and all the roads were blocked. Not even government officials could come to office for two weeks leading to a standstill in the arrangements. Later, we had a meeting with the District Labour Officer (DLO) who agreed that we could take him by ambulance at government cost. We submitted quotations from three ambulance service providers to the DLO. The lowest quotation was for INR 1,16,000 and we fixed the dates with them. We made arrangements for out passes through the government portal since they would have to travel through different states. KISMAT made arrangements for three caretakers to accompany him home and all the arrangements for food and medicine for the journey. KISMAT also arranged for the quarantine of the two ambulance drivers on their return from Assam. On 21 July, 2020, Krishna finally began his journey back to his home in Assam.
KISMAT believes that it was immense collaboration that brought wings to Krishna’s dream of returning home. We place on record our appreciation of all our collaborators: the Labour Department, BREADS Bangalore-our supporting agency, Mr. Reni from Kerala, Mrs. Pallavi from Delhi, and Home NGO from Assam, for all their concern and support.
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