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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Night curfew in Delhi prompts some migrant workers to return

At the Anand Vihar ISBT on Wednesday, a row of people scattered to find space under a steel shed to take cover from the scorching sun.

Written by Amil Bhatnagar | New Delhi |
Updated: April 9, 2021 7:41:09 am
Migrant workers at Anand Vihar ISBT in New Delhi on Thursday night.

At the Anand Vihar ISBT on Wednesday, a row of people scattered to find space under a steel shed to take cover from the scorching sun. Among them was Ashok, his wife and their two children who sat on the pavement to eat roti sabzi as they waited for a bus to Uttar Pradesh’s Sandila. The family is leaving Delhi indefinitely in the wake of a night curfew imposed in the capital due to rising Covid cases.

Many like Ashok are planning a temporary departure from the city till the situation gets better. It was this time last year that lakhs of migrant labourers began walking home in different parts of the country after the national lockdown was imposed.

Migrant workers at the Anand Vihar Bus Terminus head back home as the Delhi government imposes a night curfew to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Ashok (34) said: “I used to work in Narela on a fixed daily wage. In the last lockdown, we suffered a lot because work almost stopped. The government has announced a night lockdown since cases are rising. At this point, we don’t know when things will get better. I cannot feed my family with zero income. And this lockdown has scared us. I don’t know when I will come back or if I will. This disease has consumed us all.”

He managed to earn between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000 from labour-based jobs across industrial plants in the past one year. Over the last few days, however, he said jobs and money dried up.

Sudhir (27), a migrant labourer from Kannauj, added: “There is a possibility we might again come to a situation where our money runs out. The night curfew could extend if it (the virus) is not controlled soon. It is better to rush back home… at least we can sustain ourselves there. Here, we will have to exhaust our savings every day.”

Carrying his belongings on his head, a migrant workers walks back home from New Delhi on Thursday.

While the present rush at Kashmere Gate and Anand Vihar ISBTs does not indicate a large-scale movement by migrant, those working in the depot believe the crowd could increase.

“There is a great demand for buses to UP, Uttarakhand. And it seems that word is spreading to more people. Some also have apprehensions that inter-state travel will close and they will be stuck,” said the manager of a UP state transport bus at Anand Vihar.

“In the last one year, I have travelled back to my home in UP’s Hardoi several times. I always come back in the hope that I would find some steady work. I used to work as a plumber in a North Delhi plant but it shut down. With the present situation, it doesn’t appear that I will find a job soon. I will go back to farming or open a small shop but I will not return,” Sunil (23), a migrant worker, told The Indian Express.

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