With young children in tow, many migrant labourers in the city continue to leave for their villages or hometowns on foot despite the Centre announcing that states can make arrangements, via trains or buses, to send them home.
The Delhi government, which had issued a standard operating procedure on movement of migrant workers and others this week, is in the process of preparing a “comprehensive database” of all such workers stuck here. Many of them, however, are leaving despite registering online for buses or trains.
At ITO near the Delhi Secretariat, some families heading to villages in UP Thursday said they have no money.
With their son (5) and daughter (2), Binita Devi (27) and her husband Bhuvnesh Kumar (27) started for Gajraula in UP from Najafgarh Thursday morning. By mid-afternoon, they had reached the ITO bridge. Earning around Rs 9,000 a month as a dailywage labourer, Bhuvnesh was left with around Rs 12,000 when the lockdown began on March 24. Now, the money has dried up. “My son has a cut on his leg… his wound keeps bleeding and we have only wrapped it with a cloth as we have no means to get him treated… We left because there is no money or food, whatever will happen will happen…,” said Bhuvnesh.
He said they were hoping the lockdown would end and they could restart work.
The family was stopped at Anand Vihar bus terminal as police did not allow them to pass through to Ghaziabad.
Like Bhuvnesh, Ram Khiladi Sharma (30), who works at a jean’s factory at Panchkula in Haryana, set off along with his wife and two children for Hathras village in UP’s Badaun. He used to earn Rs 9,000 per month and had Rs 5,000 left when the lockdown began — he is now left with only Rs 20.
The family has decided to walk with their six-year-old daughter and two-year-old son: “We will just keep walking, only god will help us now.”
Anxious and longing to see their children, Sakshi (20) and Karan Kumar (24) left Mayapuri for Meerut on Thursday. Their children, aged 6 and 8, are at home with Sakshi’s elder sister.
“What can I say about what we are going through? We are very defeated and sad. We are moving around without food or water. We just want to go home to our children,” said Sakshi.
At Panchkula, a car used to arrive and distribute some rotis in the morning. “How will we survive on only two rotis? We bought whatever we could. We have no ration card either,” he said.
Due to network issues, she has been unable to talk to them for close to a week.
She and her husband used to eat food distributed at government schools.
The family decided to wait there despite police asking them to leave.
“Even if the government is giving ration, there is no money for gas; if our children get sick, there is no money to treat them.”
“Once we asked for Rs 5,000 from home… Now, there is no money there either. Only my grandmother and mother are at home, neither of whom earn,” said Sharma. With the lockdown being extended till May 17, she said she wants to get back home: