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Walking home: Who they are, why they are leaving

Caravans of men, women and children have started walking from where they live in Delhi and Haryana to their villages, mostly in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh since the announcement of a nationwide lockdown by PM Modi.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi | Published: March 29, 2020 12:39:39 pm
Walking home: Who they are, why they are leaving Thousands of men, women and children have started walking from where they live in Delhi and Haryana to their villages. (Express Photo by Amit Mehra)

Since a nationwide lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, thousands of men, women and children have started walking from where they live in Delhi and Haryana to their villages, mostly in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Walking home: Who they are, why they are leaving

Vijay Kumar, 26

Family members: 8

Profession: Labourer in Noida

Earning: Rs 5,000 a month; Headed towards: Kanpur

Why he left: “My landlord was asking for advance rent, but I had no money. We had to leave to survive.”

Brijmohan singh, 35

Family members: 10

Profession: Carpenter at a private company in Ghaziabad

Earning: Rs 9,000 a month; Headed towards: Hardoi

Why he left: “The company is shut. I used to get by at my house by promising the local grocery story owner that I will pay money later. Now he is refusing to extend credit.”

Walking home: Who they are, why they are leaving

Amit Kumar, 29

Family members: 4, including a newborn daughter

Profession: Ola cab driver

Earning: Rs 15,000 a month; Headed towards: Gorakhpur

Why he left: “I drove a vehicle on lease, paying Rs 1,000 a day to the owner. Plus, I just had a child. I don’t want my daughter to get this disease.”

Walking home: Who they are, why they are leaving

Satnam Kumar, 36

Family members: 4

Profession: Worker at a cloth-making unit in Noida

Earning: Rs 2,100 a month; Headed towards: Hardoi

Why he left: “I have walked 10 km with my sons aged 9 and 6. They didn’t understand why we were walking for hours, so I had to explain to them about the coronavirus.”

Walking home: Who they are, why they are leaving

Brijpal, 45

Family members: 3

Profession: Worked at a toy-making factory in Greater Noida

Earning: Rs 2,000 a month; Headed towards: Pilibhit

Why he left: “The factory said they will close for three months. The manager has promised to pay me the salary next month in my bank account. It is my only hope. I trust him.”

Walking home: Who they are, why they are leaving

Raj Kumari, 57

Family members: 3

Profession: Daily wager

Earning: Rs 300 a day; Headed towards: Jhansi

Why she left: “I have got work for just two days over the past half month. I did not eat yesterday. Today, I survived on biscuits. The bus was crowded today, and I couldn’t climb on the roof.”

Walking home: Who they are, why they are leaving

Sayeeda Bani, 40

Family members: Lives alone ever since her husband died

Profession: Daily wager, domestic help, thread cutter

Earning: Varies; Headed towards: Sultanpuri

Why she left: “How will I pay rent? I’m going to my village, but I’m not sure anyone will accept me.”

Heerabai, 55

Family members: 4

Profession: Construction worker

Earning: Rs 300 a day; Headed towards: Jhansi

Why she left: “I haven’t had work for 10 days. I have lived long enough to see many things — but nothing like this.”

Photos by Amit Mehra

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