Stepping in to help stranded migrants reach their villages, Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan on Wednesday arranged for four special flights to send about 700 people to their homes in Uttar Pradesh.
Two more flights with migrant workers will take off on Thursday, said sources close to Bachchan, adding he wanted to book a train for the migrants but the logistics did not work out.
The flights were "organised" on Bachchan's directive by his close aide Rajesh Yadav, managing director of his home production company AB Corp Ltd.
The flights took off from Mumbai for Allahabad, Gorakhpur and Varanasi on Wednesday morning with 180 passengers in each, the sources said.
Yadav, on Bachchan's behalf, had also recently flagged off 10 buses for 300 migrants to reach their villages in Lucknow, Allahabad, Bhadohi and other places in Uttar Pradesh.
This was done in partnership with the dargahs in Mahim and the Haji Ali, a statement said.
Bachchan's magnanimity evoked a wave of gratitude from the poor migrant workers reaching home free of cost in flights.
After landing at Allahabad airport from Mumbai in a special IndiGo flight, an overwhelmed Korawan village native Ghulam Hassan profusely thanked Bachchan for helping him reach his home, that too in a flight free of cost.
"I had never travelled in a plane before this, but Bachchan sahib made it possible for me, that too at a time when I was badly stuck in Mumbai amid the lockdown. I'm returning home after eight months," Hasan, who runs a tailoring shop in Mumbai's Hazi Ali area, told PTI.
Azamgarh native Mukesh Madhesia, who runs a tailoring shop at Worli in Mumbai, too expressed his gratitude to Bachchan.
"I contacted Haji Ali Dargah and filled up a travel form on being told by a friend about Bcahchan saheb making arrangements for flights for UP natives desirous to return home. And we got flight tickets before soon. It was unbelievable," said an elated Madhsia.
"We were very worried due to our closed shop and no other avenue of income amid the lockdown. But Bachchan sahib saved us by helping us reach home," he said, thanking the superstar from the "core of heart".
Sultanpur resident Shrinkhla, who reached Allahabad in the special flight, too profusely thanked the Bollywood star.
Allahabad's Airport Director Sunil Yadav said "This A 320 airbus of IndiGo has brought a total of 180 passengers from Mumbai. Another special flight is slated to land here on Thursday."