Migrant Caravan: an endless caravan of misery as migrants walk home | India News
Along the 800 km stretch from Pune to Bhopal of the NH Mumbai-Agra, thousands upon thousands of migrant workers, children in arms, stumbling, stretch out in endless lines. Almost every truck What happens is a shelter on wheels. Exhausted people sleep on the road. Children cry from hunger. Mothers cast anxious glances at vehicles that will not stop.
In MP’s Sendhwa At around 4 a.m. on Sunday, a truck’s headlight beam fell on a crying boy, who was no more than four years old. He and his family were riding in the back of the truck, with pots and pans and all that was left of his life in Pune.
In the UP Lalitpur district, a 26-year-old woman gave birth to a girl under a tree on the road in the village of Balabheat last Saturday. Along with a dozen other migrant workers, she had embarked on a 500 km trek from Dhar in MP back to her hometown of Barkhariya.
On Monday, TOI encountered at least four workers who had breached a containment area in Pune and began walking to Satna in MP, more than 1,100 km away, via NH-30. “Kya Karein? Ab humara dimaag kaam karna band ho gaya aur hum aise hello latak gaye hai (What to do? My brain has stopped working and I am stranded), “said Mahesh Shankar, 34.
Ajay Chouhan, a native of Agra, escaped from Raviwar Peth, another Covid-19 access point. “The police told me I would not get a pass, so I decided to walk,” he said. In the back of another truck seen earlier nearby Malegaon, the passengers had built bunks, with separate groups occupying any deck. While they slept, they held on to the ropes so they wouldn’t fall off the vehicle.
Occasionally, the headlights of passing vehicles illuminated the silhouettes sleeping on the road. The migrants lay in a tangled heap, their legs seemed to have wrinkled from sheer exhaustion; few had even had the energy to spread a gamchha over the stones and pebbles.
A handful chose the relative safety of gasoline pumps or toll booths to curl up on the ground. “We have been walking for three days. God knows how much longer. I can’t even sleep because I am afraid my young son will crawl onto the road. My husband and I take turns sleeping, ”said Parvati Bai, heading to Agra.
More than 2 lakh migrant workers cross the Maharashtra-MP border in 24 hours
In places like Malegaon, Dhule and Sendhwa, residents lined the highway during the day to deliver food and water packages to passing migrant workers.
As of Sunday, more than 2 lakh of migrant workers had crossed the Maharashtra-MP border in 24 hours. Vinod Kumar, from the deputy Morena, was not one of them. Not wanting to put his three-year-old and six-month-old wife and children in the back of a truck or walking 1,300 km, he used most of his life savings to buy a second-hand motorcycle for Rs 10,000 in Pune. They left in the early hours of Friday, along with 15 others, including her brother’s family.
After 100 km, your second-hand purchase gave up. Pushed it up Ahmednagar in the scorching heat, hoping to find a mechanic. His brother stayed with him while the others went ahead. Their hungry children screamed as the duo frantically searched for a mechanic in the closed city. They found one, who asked for Rs 8,000 to fix it. Vinod stated that he only had Rs 5,000 of his savings left. The mechanic would not move.
A local resident repaired the bike and they resumed their journey on Saturday morning. The motorcycle sizzled and died a few kilometers later. TOI found him dragging his junk bike towards Pune. Later on Sunday, he called to say that when he arrived in Pune, his owner refused to let him in. “I have no money left to go back. There is no home to stay. I don’t know what to do,” she cried over the phone, asking for help.
Malegaon toll station officials said 5,000 Mumbai cars had passed through on Saturday alone, most of them taking NH3 to UP.
The policemen deployed on the highway allowed them to pass to avoid chaos. An IS patrol on the highway said they are being let through as thousands of migrant workers cannot be detected. “If we start to stop them to examine their health, there will be a great disaster. Let them go home, ”he said.
(With contributions from Gitesh Shelke and Arindam Ghosh)
On video: Covid-19 crash: Migrants trudge on highways or get on trucks as mass exodus continues