Bhopal: A woman carries her disabled son on her shoulders all the way from Surat in Gujarat to Panna in Madhya Pradesh, travelling a distance of around 1,000km. As the woman reached Panna on Tuesday, social workers came forward to help them out by sending the two along witg an aide to their village in a vehicle.
A vegetable vendor who worked in Indore travels 190km from Indore to Bhopal on a cart after lockdown dried up business in Indore. The family had no choice but to bring along the cart, their only source of livelihood. The health staff in Bhopal have quarantined them after taking samples of the couple and their daughter.
A woman Kaushalya who had walked almost 150km right after delivering her baby in Maharashtra and got help at the Bijasan border in Barwani has now reached her native village Uchehra in Satna. The district administration offered the clothes and medicines the mother and child needed and the collector also gave the woman a cash reward of Rs 10,000. The family, who were offered food and clothes by a Sikh family in Dhule, were sent to Satna in a vehicle from Barwani.
These are just some of the examples of the pain and suffering that migrant labourers are putting up with amid a nationwide lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, as they undergo extreme hardship just to get back home.
The central state of Madhya Pradesh is not only witnessing an influx of local labourers but also people belonging to UP and Bihar that are making desperate attempts to get back home amid these trying times.
Districts like Datia, Guna, Jhabua, Barwani among others are witnessing the arrival of a large number of migrant labourers on a daily basis.
As has been the case in the past few weeks, thousands of labourers again caused a scene after they could not find enough buses to ferry them home in Barwani on Tuesday.
Many saw no other option but to sit on the roof tops of buses to reach home despite the searing heat. Many were also sent to their homes in trucks.
The ruling administration has arranged for around 100 buses for transporting these labourers but that isn't sufficient in the wake of people swarming the Barwani borders.
On highways close to Bhopal, hundreds of labourers are seen walking with their families to their homes in MP and neighbouring UP. Several of them left with no money now depend on social workers to feed them on the way.
At Vidisha too the scene of migrant labourers walking or using bicycles and auto rickshaws are now a common sight.
Many labourers who had no mode of transportation available to them are using bicycles purchased at exorbitant prices due to the lockdown.
Sandip Sharma, a carpenter by profession, used to work at Chalisgaon in Maharashtra and told volunteer activist Prashant Dubey at Vidisha that he had no means to reach his home in Gorakhpur so he asked his family to send money and bought a bicycle for Rs 6,500. With the help extended by volunteers in the way, Sandip hopes to reach home in a week.
Mahesh Diwakar, a native of Kaushambi in UP, has a similar tale. He used to work in Mumbai and bought a bicycle for Rs 3500 and started his journey back home. Since his bag got torn on the way, he bought a plastic water tank and hung his belongings on the carrier. “If we don’t learn our lessons, we won’t fall in line ever,” Diwakar told social activist Rolly Shivhare.
There are many such stories of migrant labourers walking for hundreds of kilometres to get home as they had neither the money nor a means of transportation.
Hundreds of labourers are also being helped by the Shramik Express trains and buses arranged by the administration.
On Tuesday, the Shivraj Singh Chougan government announced that 376 more buses will be used to help labourers reach home.
By last Saturday, the state government is said to have helped over 1.5 lakh people return to MP and around one lakh return to their homes in other states.
However with limited government resources available, thousands of labourers are still heading back home on foot, bicycles or any mode of transport available to different states including Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Delhi, UP and Gujarat among others.