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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Rumours in neighbourhood, WhatsApp forwards prompted exodus from city

Rumours that the lockdown would last three months and that the curfew was “relaxed” for a day to allow them to go home were on Anul Aryan’s mind when he was packing his bags.

Written by Abhinav Rajput | New Delhi | March 31, 2020 12:54:03 am
Rumours in neighbourhood, WhatsApp forwards prompted exodus from city A migrant on foot leaving the city. (Express photo)

Calls and messages from friends, conversations with neighbours and the urge to go home during a crisis — for hundreds of migrant workers, these factors, along with pending rent and shortage of money, were the main motivation for trying to leave the city.

Rumours that the lockdown would last three months and that the curfew was “relaxed” for a day to allow them to go home were on Anul Aryan’s mind when he was packing his bags.

Walking along the deserted stretch of Noida’s Botanical Garden flyover, along with his two friends, the 20-year-old carried clothes and blankets. “I lived in a temporary structure along with 20 others from our village in Bahraich. Rent is not a problem because it is managed by elders but everyone around us said the lockdown would continue for three months. We decided it was better to leave, even if on foot,” he said.

Aryan, who sold sugarcane juice in Faridabad, consumes most of his “news” on WhatsApp.

Hesitant to reveal the contents of his smartphone, he said videos and messages shared by others suggested it was best to leave the city.

In Shyam Sundar’s case, his neighbours in a jhuggi near Anand Vihar told him the government would cut power supply, and ration will be exhausted soon. “In my area, there was panic that the electricity would be cut and all food will be out of stock because labourers are leaving. I had no intention of leaving initially but after my friends repeated these things, I decided to leave with my sons,” Sundar, whose village is in Farrukhabad, said.

The rumours left Mohammad Nusrat (50) homeless, at least for a few days. He was coming from Jaipur and managed to get a bus till Gurgaon.

From there, he walked to the Greater Noida Expressway, hoping to get a bus to Muzaffarnagar. “Announcements were made on e-rickshaws in Rajasthan that the curfew has been relaxed for people wanting to go to UP from Delhi, so we left. Now we are stuck here and have nowhere to go,” he said.

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