Migrant labourers desperate to reach home storm out in lakhs in Delhi

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It has become a herculean task for both Union and the State governments to mend the ways of its unruly citizens, on one hand, while struggling to prevent the spread of dreaded Covidvirus on the other.

Unable to withstand the 21-day ‘total lockdown’ in the country, hundreds of people mostly the migrant daily wage labourers thronged several bus stations around the national capital in order to reach their homes elsewhere on Saturday. The news of labourers walking hundreds of kilometres to reach their native villages from cities and towns began to pour in for a few days now.

A 38-year-old man, who had walked over 240 km from Delhi to reach his home in Madhya Pradesh but died 80-km away from his village in this morning. Ranveer Singh, who worked as a delivery agent in Delhi, was among the thousands of migrants desperately trying to return to their hometowns and villages after they were left without jobs, shelter or money. He trekked for 326 km from the national capital to reach his home. Unfortunately, he collapsed on the highway in Agra in Uttar Pradesh, and no sooner he was offered with tea and biscuits by a local shopkeeper, he died of a heart attack.

In another instance, a 26- year-old daily wager walked over 135 km without food from Nagpur in Maharashtra to reach his native Jambh village in Saoli Tehsil of Chandrapur district. He managed to catch the last train from Pune to Nagpur, but as the government later enforced restrictions on all sorts of travel, he got stranded in Nagpur. Left with no other option, Shelke started a foot march on the Nagpur-Nagbhid road on Tuesday to reach his village in Chandrapur. He walked for two days without food and survived only on the water until police spotted him and took him to a rural hospital in Sindewahi. He was provided with food and transport to reach his house.

Such incidents seem to have recurring everywhere in the country. The situation has arisen due to the “total lockdown” meant to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading. In order to avoid crowding, the govt had suspended all interstate bus and railway services, leaving migrants and their young families no option but to walk hundreds of kilometres foot in searing heat.

Thanks to the media exposure, the Uttar Pradesh and Delhi governments on Saturday arranged 1200 buses to ferry the people their home towns. Although it has come as a relief to the migrant labourers, the Modi-government had come under severe attack by the opposition Congress who’s prince Rahul Gandhi accused Modi of announcing the lockdown abruptly without planning to leave millions stranded triggering panic.

However, brushing these allegations aside, the government on Sunday claimed that the country’s response to COVID-19 has been “pre-emptive, pro-active and graded”, the government said on Saturday