Amit Dwivedi (23), an excavating machine operator from Madhya Pradesh employed in an Ahmedabad-based company, had left the city on foot on Sunday afternoon in a bid to cross the Gujarat border and reach home. However, after 24 hours of travel, an exhausted Dwivedi seemed to have reached nowhere and was spotted walking back to Ahmedabad on Monday afternoon.
A native of Suji village under Rewa Taluka of MP, Dwivedi was seen holding bags and walking at the Vaishno Devi circle in the city. He claimed that he doesn’t have enough money to survive without any work in the coming two weeks.
Like Dwivedi, dozens of daily wage labourers from MP returned to Ahmedabad on Monday, after the Gujarat Police sent them back from the bordering districts, citing strict lockdown protocol. After reports of mass migration of daily wage labourers had emerged. the state government had instructed police officials to stop the workers from crossing the border, as it would pose a bigger risk of contracting COVID-19.
“A few days ago, we were handed Rs 5,000 as our balance amount and asked to leave the city as there won’t be any work for the next 20 days. Yesterday, three of my colleagues and I had started from Sola in Ahmedabad around 2 pm and reached Odhav ring road by 5 pm where we were given some food by the police. We started walking again and finally reached Pranjit in Sabarkantha around midnight. We had then fixed a truck ride to MP border for Rs 200 each, but police intercepted the vehicle and asked us to return. We had no option but to return on foot to Ahmedabad. Now, we are heading back to our rented residence in Sola where we don’t have any food or water,” said Dwivedi.
Vikas Mishra (19), another daily wager from Rewa, also said he doesn’t have any money left with him.
“Our friends had started returning to MP four days ago, but we didn’t think that there would be no means of transport. But when everybody started leaving, we also packed our bags and started to walk. However, police asked us to return from Modasa. We wanted to cross the Rajasthan border and then head to MP. I spent at least Rs 500 in the journey from Ahmedabad to Modasa and yet, I am back here 24 hours later. We don’t have any money to buy groceries,” said Mishra.
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown, Ahmedabad has witnessed thousands of migrant daily wage labourers walking over 150 kilometres on foot to cross the state.
Gujarat Director General of Police, Shivanand Jha said that the police is making efforts to ensure that these migrant labourers don’t face any hardships. “Through video conferencing, senior officials have been instructed to detain labourers whenever they are seen walking on foot, and then send them to shelter homes and provide medical treatment,” Jha told mediapersons on Monday.
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