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July 13, 2019

Cold water sellers at van stands

Lahore

July 13, 2019

Imran Abbas sells cold water at Khanna Bridge wagon stand in order to earn his daily food. He helps people beat the brutal summer heat and he takes a round of every incoming vehicle to entice the passengers so that they buy a glass of water from him for just ten rupee note. By and large the drivers and conductors, wiping sweat off their faces, are his customers, but often passengers also become his customers.

“On the days when the sun is truly baking he finds a lot of customers. On some days he has to implore customers to buy a glass of water. On finding not a single person, if some passenger out of pity gives him a note in charity he is not ever prepared to take. He always maintains that the one showing pity for him should first agree to take a glass of water from him,” says Abid Raza, a stall holder there.

Sajjad Ali, a guesthouse worker, says: “Homeless, he sleeps in one of the entrances of a hotel in the area market. But the police chases him out and these days he sleeps out in the open. Imran and thousands like him are unprotected against the life-threatening heat and cold and still have to sleep out in the open.”

Waseem Haider from Shujaabad is another young man who was unable to find a job and had no option but to sell water near Katchery Chowk and is facing the horrible summer time.

Sahir Ali is also selling cold water near Kamran Market, Saddar. He says: “There are no night shelters for people like me. The police drives us away from railway platforms and market places. Where shall we keep our meager bedding?”

Zulfiqar Hussain from Layyah, also a cold water seller near Ayub Park, says: “I have to find a place to answer the call of nature. In summer I spend my nights in the lap of open sky as not one person is there among the human beings to cuddle me. In winter, during nighttime, I light up an open-air fire of discarded material to keep myself warm.”

“Such guys have no other choice but to unwillingly sleep in the open on the naked hot floor in summer season or under the dripping wet sky in monsoon. Most of these persons have migrated from other provinces of Pakistan and after fruitless search for a permanent job were compelled to sell water at different wagon stands of the city,” says Shehryar Zaidi, a fruit seller near the wagon stand. “All these migrated people are losing their dynamism despite the fact that they are bravely facing harsh weather conditions in the city,” adds Shehryar.

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