Over 2,000 daily wage workers and migrant labourers in Gujarat travelled on foot for several hours to reach Rajasthan’s Bichhiwara tehsil on Tuesday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, The Indian Express reported. Men, women and children began their journey from several parts of Ahmedabad between 7 pm and 9 pm to reach Rajasthan’s Dungarpur village, the nearest border.
“We reached Himmatnagar by 11 pm, where we were stopped at a police curfew,” Dashrath Yadav, a native of Banswara in Rajasthan, told The Indian Express. “We were then told to hop onto a truck that was going to Aravalli. At least 100 people loaded onto the truck and we travelled all night, at a snail’s speed due to heavy police checking in each district.”
Yadav, a construction worker, said that the group reached Shamalaji in Aravalli without any water or food. From there, it arrived at Bichhiwara bus station in Dungarpur after walking for two hours.
At the bus station, hundreds of people lined up outside ticket counters. “We have our labourer brothers from Jaipur, Jodhpur, Banswara, Dungarwara and Udaipur in majority over here,” Shankarbhai Yadav, another labourer from Banswara said. “I also started walking after 9 pm, when the lockdown was announced and somehow reached here, without food or water. Finally, we received some refreshment in Bichhiwara.”
Local government officials in Rajasthan said over 2,000 people arrived at the Bichhiwara bus station by Wednesday morning. Bichhiwara tehsildar Amrit Patel said the administration has arranged three Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation buses and 15 to 20 minibuses and other vehicles for the travellers. “They are being placed in the buses one by one to ensure social distancing is maintained,” he added.
As many as 606 people have been diagnosed with the Covid-19 infection in India, of which 10 have died. The lockdown will be in place for 21 days. Globally, over 4,30,000 people have been infected with the virus, and around 19,000 have died, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University.