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“If a government doesn’t think of the poor, it can never be considered a good government. For a worker, who earns by the day and eats by the day, he sends whatever he has left back home. If he has no work for two months, how will he survive?”
These were the words of carpenter who has worked in Pune for over 20 years. With no work during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, he was en route his village in Gorakhpur.
Like him, there were many migrant workers we met at NH-28 near Barabanki, adjacent to the capital city of Lucknow. They had stopped for a meal that was being distributed on the side of the road.
A lot has already been reported on how the sudden lockdown has left migrant workers with no choice but to walk towards their hometown.
Thousands of workers are still on roads and they're not getting proper transportation facility to reach their homes. They are paying hefty sums to find a way back.
Guddu from Bihar used to do sewing work in Jaipur. He was going back home in a packed bus of 65 people that workers hired with their own expense. They had to shell out Rs 2,500 per person.
“We were stuck in Jaipur after the lockdown. We didn’t get time to go back home and there was no way to leave from there. We were facing troubles. We used to call the official on the helpline number but our complaints used to stay registered without any resolution or help.”Guddu
Migrants also told us that procuring food and ration became tough in the lockdown. Ranjan, who left Haryana on a cycle, told us,
“We can only eat if we have money. It is not like the government was giving us money for food.”
Rajendra, who was going to Faizabad from Mumbai, concurs.
“We were facing problems. There was no ration. People who had ration card were getting it .People like me weren’t.. We were forced to leave.”
He adds that the government told them to fill a form and said trains will start to ferry them back home. But he says there was no guarantee when it would be their turn.
Most of them are relying on their meagre savings.
“The work conditions are such that we don’t get paid even after doing the work. Everyone says ‘market is down, there is a lockdown, there is no work.’ So we are going home.”Bhartiya
(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)