There seems to be no end to the misery of migrant workers even as India grapples with the third phase of the nationwide lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. Although the central and state governments have claimed that provisions have been made for stranded migrants to return to their homes, a group of workers started walking from Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow to Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, almost 700 km apart, as no other means of transport were made available to them.
“We spoke to the persons made in-charge by the local municipal corporation and also visited the police station here,” a worker named Gopal Prasad Patre told an NDTV journalist. “They said that no arrangement of food can be made for us. They also refused to arrange transport for us to go back home. It is better to begin walking towards home than dying of hunger here.”
Patre was walking to Bilaspur with his wife, children as young as five and seven, and a few other fellow workers.
Patre also said that he had received no help from the government, and would not be able to provide food for his family and himself for two weeks more – the duration of the third phase of the lockdown. “We are having trouble finding food, that is why we decided to walk back to our home,” he said. “In case we find a truck or another vehicle on the way, we will board it. Otherwise, we will keep walking, even if it takes fifteen days or a month,” he added.