Have you ever wondered why the indigenous Bhil people choose scorching hot cities like Jaisalmer and Jodhpur to start their lives anew after fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan? The reason is pretty straightforward. It also explains why a simple thing like a cement roof became an item of privilege for them.
Before independence, the Bhil people, residing in the remote desert regions of Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, moved from Rajasthan to Sindh per their migratory practices. However, many families couldn’t continue this migration back to India due to the creation of borders. Over time, due to increasing animosity against weak Hindu minorities there, their exodus across the border began.
This exodus continues to this day. Bhil families leave behind their hard-earned livelihood and enter India from the Atari Wagah border. The paperwork required for this migration costs each family lakhs of rupees. After arriving in India, their hard-earned savings are exhausted, and they start their lives from scratch in the settlements around Jaisalmer.
In Amar Sagar, a locality near Jaisalmer, there was a settlement of these displaced people for several years. They were able to set up their new lives with community and mutual support. However, in May 2023, the Rajasthan administration declared their homes as encroachments and demolished them.
Women and children, tortured by the scorching sun, were seen crying with their hands folded. Many women were taken to the hospital in an unconscious state due to the intense heat. This news spread widely through the media, and many citizens questioned the administration’s actions. Eventually, the administration allowed them to reside in Moolsagar, away from the original place.
When the Seva Nyaya Utthan Foundation (SNUF) team arrived on the ground, they observed that even after a month of struggle, the families had only the empty land they needed, on which they were using makeshift living arrangements. They had started building walls for their homes by gathering broken bricks and stones from their old places because they couldn’t afford essential items like a roof.
Seeing these families struggle in the scorching heat without a roof was painful. Therefore, we went to a cement sheet factory in Jaisalmer city and purchased good-quality sheets measuring more than 15 feet. After measuring a house, we bought 175 sheets and took them to Moolsagar.
This prompt action took the families there by a pleasant surprise. The people living in the settlement themselves stepped forward to help us. Everyone lent a hand to take these roofs to every house.
With the availability of the cement roof, the construction of houses was almost completed, making all the families very happy. On that day, nearly 10 to 12 families forcibly invited SNUF member Mayur Bhosale to their homes and served him tea and refreshments. They told him many others had been approaching them with empty promises, but only SNUF came here and sorted their problems in just a few hours. The smiles on the faces of all those people were the best reward for our team.