Mumbai: Hundreds of poor cancer patients who have been coming for treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, have spent days on the footpath outside the hospital. They live in makeshift tents for the duration they have to be in the city as they cannot afford to live in a hotel.
However, Mumbai Police has written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to make arrangements for the patients because it considers them as a security risk.
While no police official commented on camera, sources in the Bhoiwada Police Station, under whose jurisdiction the hospital falls, say that crowded places like hospitals are often soft targets for terrorists. The crowd outside the hospital makes it even more vulnerable. This is more so when there is no way of verifying who is living inside the makeshift tents.
The news has come as a double whammy for those who have no option but to live on the footpath with just a tarpaulin sheet to protect them from the monsoon rains.
Phagulal Chandravanshi, 32, has a cancerous tumour in his shoulder. The shepherd from Seoni in Madhya Pradesh sold his land and cattle to pay for treatment. Mumbai's hotels are too expensive for him. The road is now his temporary home. But at the moment, more than cancer, it's the police he really fears.
"We don't have space to live in. We can't afford to live in a hotel. They ask us to get off the footpath too. Where do we go?" he told NDTV.
For Sanjay Kumar, a daily wage labourer from Uttar Pradesh, living away from his children has been difficult. His wife Sheelam has a cancerous tumour in her knee. Worried about losing his only shelter while he is in Mumbai for her treatment, he says, "We are living here because we have no choice. Please let us be." It is an appeal he hopes the authorities will pay heed to.