Blockade in India: without transport, migrants make the long march home | India News
These tides of men, women, and children, fueled by the uncompromising arithmetic of survival and fear of contracting the coronavirus, pose a new challenge to general government attempts to stem the spread of the disease. “Around 26,000 people have reached Ratanpur, on the Gujarat-Rajasthan border, in the past two to three days. Our teams first list them before the medical teams examine them. Those who have been warned of quarantine are sealed and then transported to their villages in buses organized by the administration, “according to Dungarpur collector Kanaram.
There are thousands leaving Delhi-NCR, trudging down the Yamuna Highway and the highway to Meerut. Raj Kumar is one: He has gone home with only Rs 1,000 in hand. But home is Chhapra in Bihar, 1,050 km. And he has a little boy in his arms as his wife walks beside him. He hopes to get hooked, or several, at home. Police checkpoints on the outskirts of Jaipur encounter people walking back to their villages. TOI visits the Jaipur-Agra highway and finds hundreds walking along the way, carrying bags.
«My town is 110 km from Jaipur. I have no choice but to go back. The police detained us in some places, but, convinced that we had no other choice, they let us continue, ”says Kishan Mahawar, a daily salaried worker.
The scale of the migration was so great that it frightened senior officers of the Jaipur Police Commission when their subordinates told them that hundreds of workers were walking towards Transport Nagar. “A migration is underway … We have spoken to many of them who said they ran out of money. Yesterday we helped some of them get to their villages,” said Jaipur Commissioner Anand Srivastav. On the Gujarat border and Rajasthan, the Patwaris were preparing lists of the arriving population according to the areas to which they belonged, and medical teams of 20 doctors and 40 nurses have been working day and night to examine them. Most of them have no money and have not eaten appropriately, said Kanaram, the collector, adding that although it was a large number of people, they adhered to the social distancing protocol “as much as possible.”
“About 16,000 had arrived as of Wednesday and about 12,000 were reported to have arrived in seven hours on Thursday, between 6 am and 1 pm. Large numbers are expected in the next two days, ”said Kanaram, adding that the district administration had organized 50 buses to transport these people to their homes. In Maharashtra, a man walked 135 km, from Nagpur to Sindewahi, and was detained by the police about 25 km from his village.
Separately, police in the Pandharkawda State District averted a tragedy when they intercepted five container vehicles filled with more than 350 Telangana migrant workers. They all belonged to Jodhpur. Yavatmal SP M Rajkumar said that since the vehicles had not entered Maharashtra, the police had sent them back. But the workers, forced to leave their places of residence by their employers in Telangana, decided to walk home 1,500 km away.
In UP, the police detained more than 160 employees traveling from and around Delhi in three vehicles, including a tanker. After medical examinations determined that they were free of Covid-19, they were sent to their villages in Bahraich, Kaiserganj and Huzooprur. In Hyderabad, about a dozen workers from a poor neighborhood had taken a journey of about 600 km, to a village in Visakhapatnam.
By Thursday they had walked and climbed to Kodada, on the Telangana-Andhra Pradesh border. Gujarat was no different. Thousands left Ahmedabad for their homes in MP, Rajasthan and UP, while the police tempted them to keep promises of shelter and food. Ravindra Yadav, a carpenter in a furniture factory, had Rs 12 in his pocket on the way home to Barabanki, UP. “It is our only hope since our employer told us to leave, since there would be no job or salary,” Yadav said.