An 18-year-old Bano and her two sisters Noor Jahan,16, and Rubina,12, had been working as domestic helps at Derabassi for the past three and a half years, before the coronavirus outbreak rendered them jobless.
With restrictions on entering societies for work, the three sisters were asked to come to work only after over three months. Left with no money, the three were forced to set out on a 650 km journey to their native place, Uttar Pradesh’s Hardoi, on foot.
The sisters had come to Derabassi with their family five years back. However, her father left for Hardoi in early March to take their ill mother to their native place. Since then, the sisters, working as domestic helps at different societies in Derabassi and Zirakpur, have been living alone in Derabassi.
“We are unable to work anywhere else in the city and only know how to read Urdu. If we do not go back to Hardoi to our parents, we will starve here. I am the eldest, I have to take care of my two sisters and reach safely to our parents. Walking on the road, I fear about our safety,” said Bano, wiping off her tears.
On being asked if she registered for the train to Hardoi, Bano said, “I tried registering for the train and the buses going to UP. But we could not understand the messages that we received on our phone, as we only know how to read Urdu. All our other efforts were also futile.”
Bano’s sister, Noor Jahan said, “We could have left for UP earlier, but we feared to move alone. From the past one week, we have been trying to approach the officials and the policemen in the area, to help us catch a train to Hardoi. One of them asked us to go to Zirakpur bus stand, from where UP-bound buses were supposed to be running.”
On the decision to make the long journey on foot, Bano said, “When I and my sisters reached Zirakpur bus stand, there were no arrangements. Only private vehicles were moving, charging Rs 5,000 for one person. We stayed at the bus stand for three days, where we met another family from Hardoi, waiting for the bus. We then decided to walk with them to Hardoi, which is nearly 600-700 km.”
Bano and her sisters are headed to their native place with the family of 40-year-old Nanku Mohammad, his wife Sanu Tara, 35, and their four children including three girls.
The group had left Zirakpur around 12.30 pm on Wednesday, taking the Ambala-Chandigarh national highway towards Haryana border.
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