‘On Foot, In Coal Trucks’: Jharkhand Migrants’ 96-Hr Journey Home

I, along with a group of migrant workers, left Bengaluru on 20 May for our home state Jharkhand.

Published
My Report
4 min read

Video Editor: Vivek Gupta
Video Producer: Arpita Raj

“We don’t know what will happen. We don’t have a room also. We are basically on the footpath... that is our condition. We haven’t eaten anything since morning.”

Most of the migrant workers from other states working alongside us in the supermarket have already left, only we were left behind. So, we too left, nobody was telling us what to do.

I left Bengaluru on 20 May for my home-state, Jharkhand.

We thought it was better to go home as there is no money left... what is the point of staying back here? It’s better that we go home and stay there. Whatever happens, we will be safe there.
When there is no money to go back home, what is the purpose served by us staying here?
When there is no money to go back home, what is the purpose served by us staying here?
(Photo: Arpita Raj/The Quint)

‘All the Truck Drivers Betrayed Us’

It took a lot of effort to return. We all had very little money as well but we set off and caught a truck.

The truck driver wanted Rs 2,000, but we settled for Rs 1,400 per person.

He dropped us at Lakhnadon in Madhya Pradesh.

From there, we spoke to another truck driver and he warned us that we might get caught at the Uttar Pradesh border. He said that if we paid him Rs 700 each, he would help us cross. I told him that we would only be able to pay Rs 400 per person because we had no money. We ourselves had not eaten or had water to drink. Under pressure, we paid what he asked for and left Lakhnadon.

Entering Uttar Pradesh

We travelled for a while and were able to cross the border and enter Uttar Pradesh around 12 or 1 am early morning. As soon as we crossed, the driver left us at Prayagraj and from there the police were kind enough to guide us. They told us that we should not travel by truck as we will get caught. Instead, we should take a bus.

Now, to get onto a bus, we needed an e-pass to travel, which the Karnataka government had to issue to us, but did not.

We were finding it difficult to get e-passes because the Karnataka government had not issued the passes to us, yet. We had registered and tried very hard, but they did not stamp it.

Helpless, we left Prayagraj for Benares on foot, thinking we will get some mode of transport from there. As we walked our way, a goods vehicle carrying sand and concrete passed us by. We requested for a ride and got onto that.

The truck was very dirty, and there was dirt all over us. We stopped in between, and there was shop but the shopkeeper refused to let us enter.

It was strange, to see people were running away from us, looking at us. One man felt bad for us and helped us get an auto.

We reached Mohansarai in Uttar Pradesh and were so tired of travelling that when we met another truck driver, we begged him to take us home, at any cost. He took us in but then the UP Police stopped us and told us to get off.

They said they would arrange for a bus, for us to go to Jharkhand. They even gave us food, we were so hungry that we quickly ate it.

Closer to Home, But Not Quite There

While on the way to Jharkhand, the bus driver stopped halfway and refused to take us the rest of the way. So, we just started our journey on foot again, from the UP border.

There, we were checked, and we got to rest for some time.

Then, we were informed that there was no bus to Jharkhand. So, we just started walking under the sun from there on. Finally hours later, a truck with coal passed by and we asked for help.

We never discussed money with the truck driver. But, when we entered Jharkhand, he asked us for money. We had used all our money to reach till there. We didn’t have any left, so he asked us to get off. It was dark and late at night, and there was no way for us to get home.

But, we had reached so far, and didn’t give up. Finally, we got home after more than 96 hours of struggling. We are at home now, staying alone, in quarantine for 14 days.

(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.)

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