How The Quint, A Scribe & Govt Official Took A K’taka Migrant Home
Jamuna had been walking for six days before help came her way.
A ticket to a train that left Chikkabanavara railway station in the outskirts of Bengaluru at 4.30 pm on Saturday, 16 May, marked the end of a week-long ordeal for Jamuna and her four-year-old baby Jashna Rani.
On Wednesday, while reporting on the migrant exodus on National Highway 44, The Quint’s Arun Dev and independent journalist Mohit Rao spotted Jamuna seated by the road with her daughter in her arms. She had walked for six days, and the blisters on her feet had made it difficult for her to walk any further, especially carrying her baby. Determined to get to Odisha at any cost, her husband Pratap Malik was waving at trucks for a lift till the border; but in vain.
“We have been walking for six days. We walked all the way here. Police stopped us near the Andhra Pradesh border. Police have been asking us to go here, go there for six days, and finally, we sat down here,” she told The Quint.
When asked why she was walking, she said the Odisha government had decided to stop all trains bringing migrants back home. “We did everything. Police officers gave us this document for travel. But nothing happened since our government didn’t give any permission for us to go Odisha. So, we have walked from Kamakshipalaya,” she said.
The Quint shared her travel information with a civil servant in Karnataka, who had offered to help migrant workers in need. Initially, both Jamuna and her husband were reluctant to head back all the way and board a train. They said waiting would do them no good, as Odisha government was not allowing any trains to enter the state.
But little did she know that the Odisha government has reversed its decision following a Supreme Court order.
After much convincing, the family decided to shift to a guest house organised by the government official. The official who request anonymity, coordinated with the police to arrange for a special train for migrants bound for Odisha and ensured Jamuna and her family got a seat on it.
On 16 May, nine days after she started walking, Jamuna was finally on her way back home in Odisha’s Balasore District, along with 1,500 other migrant labourers.
On their way back, her husband shared new photos of their journey and left a small message for the reporters and the officer who helped arrange tickets for them, saying, “Thank you, hum aapko kabhi nahi bhoolenge (we will never forget you).”
Jamuna is expected to reach home on 17 May.
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