Delhi government starts langar for poor who are affected by currency ban

NEW DELHI: Call it playing politics or what you will, but in a move that will gladden many, the Delhi government yesterday began providing free food for the poor who are now doubly hit by the shortage of cash due to demonetisation.

“This move has been undertaken to provide the poor with three meals a day and save them from dying of hunger due to demonetisation,” tweeted Delhi’s AAP deputy chief minster Manish Sisodia, who along with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has been highly critical of the move to scrap high-value notes.

The free food distribution – or langar – was set up in 10 places across Delhi. Sisodia’s party colleague Ashutosh called the plan “humanitarian”.

In fact, in several cities and towns in northern India, it isn’t just bank queues that are long. There are long lines even at langars, which are typically run in gurudwaras. In Delhi, university students have also been seeking out langars as they are short of cash to buy food from their regular cafeterias and roadside stalls.

“After paying our rents, we have run out of cash. No landlord is accepting cheques Most of us come together with our books to the gurudwara, and after lunch, we sit together and study here in the compound,” said Neha Vaswani, a second-year literature student.

The manager at a gurudwara in Moti Bagh said the langar has been catering to many students who live in paying guest accommodations near their colleges. “We are glad to help them,” said the Moti Bagh gurudwara manager Kashmir Singh.

It has been over a month since the acute cash shortage began after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sprung the high-value currency ban on the country on the night of November 8.

After the ban, Delhi chief minister Kejriwal alleged that the move was a “huge scam” by the NDA government at the Centre. He also alleged that the BJP and some other players had been informed before demonetisation. In addition, he said that there had been significant misreporting on the money deposits made at banks.

“In previous quarters, deposits in banks were negative. But in the July-to-September quarter, such large amounts were being deposited in the banks. Who did all this money belong to?” he asked last month.

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