Four days into his journey, walking from Rohtak to Madhya Pradesh with his family, Aashis Ahirwar had to make the decision to retrace his steps because of Haryana tightening restrictions at its borders.
On Sunday, the 24-year-old had begun the journey with his wife, one-year-old daughter and six-year-old nephew. A daily-wage labourer, he said he had tried to put off this difficult trek to his village in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur district — a distance of 600 km — as much as possible.
“I had saved around Rs 10,000-12,000 over the years and my family made do with that for the last month, during which I had no work. But we have now reached the end of that and have nothing to support ourselves. Our landlord has been quite supportive but he cannot fill our stomachs, can he? He has told us that we can return to him once this is all over,” he said.
They had left with just one bag containing a set of clothes for each member. Husband and wife took turns — one carrying the baby for a while, the other carrying the bag — walking for a few hours in the morning, resting during the afternoon and walking for a few more hours in the late afternoon and evening. They ate where they found police personnel, charitable groups and relief workers distributing food.
The family was stopped at the Gurgaon-Delhi border on Tuesday afternoon and have been unable to move forward since then. Vigilance at the Delhi-Gurgaon border was increased on Tuesday after a spike in Jhajjar, which reported its first seven cases.
The family spent Tuesday night in a tent provided to police personnel for shelter by the main road in Rajokri. Aashis said the policemen had offered them some space there seeing his baby daughter. In the heat of the afternoon sun on Wednesday, she cried uncontrollably.
“We are just not being allowed to go forward. They have told us to go back to where we’ve come from and said the restrictions will be eased a little bit in five-six days and that we should try to make the journey then. We cannot just lie around on the road for the next few days waiting to be allowed to pass through. So I guess we do not have any option but to go back. We have nothing left there, but will just have to find some way to feed ourselves,” he said.
On Wednesday evening, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order allowing movement of migrant workers stranded in various places.
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