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Monday, July 13, 2020

Despite assurance, exodus continues: ‘Virus will last months, what about then?’

“We left our home in Budh Vihar at 1 pm and have been walking since. We haven’t had any food and were hoping to get a ride. We heard a truck would take us, we ran but missed it," said a migrant worker, who worked at a construction site and has run out of money for rent and food since the lockdown.

Written by Jignasa Sinha | New Delhi | Published: March 28, 2020 3:07:30 am
Migrant workers, coronavirus outbreak, india lockdown, Delhi news, indian express news At the Ghazipur border on Friday night, a few children cried, while others begged their parents to let them rest by the roadside for a while. (File/Representational Image)

Walking in the rain, protecting his three daughters with chunnis, 35-year-old Guddu and his wife Sapna started crying as they saw a truck leave at the Ghazipur border on Friday. Several families that reached the border had managed to hitch a ride on the truck.

“We left our home in Budh Vihar at 1 pm and have been walking since. We haven’t had any food and were hoping to get a ride. We heard a truck would take us, we ran but missed it. We live in Farrukhabad and it might take us three days to reach there, but we won’t give up. It’s better to die with our families in UP than die alone here. It’s been three days and I had to beg to get food for my children. My wife hasn’t eaten since yesterday,” said Guddu, who worked at a construction site and has run out of money for rent and food since the lockdown. He has been living in Delhi for three months.

He is one of thousands of migrant workers who have been streaming out of their rented shanties in Delhi and, in the absence of transport, walking to their villages. This, despite the Delhi government promising to feed four lakh people every day.

At the Ghazipur border on Friday night, a few children cried, while others begged their parents to let them rest by the roadside for a while. Adding to their woes was the rain, since most of them did not have a change of clothes.

Hundreds stood under a bridge and waited for the rain to stop while others walked on the highway. Meanwhile, police tried to reason with them. Senior officers, including DCP (East) Jasmeet Singh, requested families to stay in Delhi and assured them that police and authorities will help.

Pushpa (45) told the personnel: “You can only provide us with food packets for a day or two. This coronavirus will last for weeks, maybe months. We can’t trust the government. Did anyone think about us for the last four days? Why do they care now?”

Sitting with her husband on the roadside, Mahadevi (47) cursed her luck. “We shifted to Seelampur in November. Three months after that, communal clashes took place and we had to go back to our home in Datia, Madhya Pradesh. We came back 20 days ago and now we have to leave again. I have no shelter or water, how will I maintain hygiene? I have packed three rotis for me and my husband. We had to leave behind all our belongings and vegetable stall. My children are with my sister in Datia,” she said.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: Are smokers at high risk form coronavirus? | Can Vitamin-C prevent or cure coronavirus infection? | What exactly is community spread of coronavirus? | How long can the Covid-19 virus survive on a surface? | Amid the lockdown, what is allowed, what is prohibited?

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