COVID-19 impact: How this family of 11 reached their home, 906 km away, in two days

Updated: 30 March, 2020 07:14 IST | Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

A family of 11, including two children, which set off for Pali in Rajasthan on foot from Mumbai on March 26, narrates how it managed to reach home, thanks to a chain of Good Samaritans along the way

Pappu (front right) with his family outside their home in Kalab Khurd village in Rajasthan
Pappu (front right) with his family outside their home in Kalab Khurd village in Rajasthan

A labourer, who began his long trudge from Virar on Thursday last week along with 10 members of his family, amid the lockdown that has brought the country to a standstill, reached his village in the Pali district of Rajasthan on Saturday afternoon. Pappu Singh alias Akash, 22, and his two nephews traversed the entire 906 kilometres in approximately 55 hours. The other relatives, who were behind them, reached on Sunday.

While they walked for 125 kilometres, the rest of the distance was covered by hitching rides After reaching his village, Kalab Khurd, Pappu recorded a video thanking Boisar Crime Branch officer Bhimsen Gaikwad for his help.

Pappu also apologised to Assistant Police Inspector Gaikwad for having lied to him. According to the video message, Pappu has a diploma in solar energy from a government institute in Rajasthan. He has also trained as an electrician. Pappu had given his name as Prakash and said that the kids were his own. He came to the city in the beginning of March after giving his final exams to work as a labourer. The trio and their eight relatives had set out for their village.

Pappu Singh
Pappu Singh

Pappu's brother, Mahendra Singh, is an electrician working for the Indian Railway. The family's plans to go to their village after the kids' exams were scuttled with the lockdown coming into place. With no place to live and no money to eat, the villagers decided to go home on foot.

"The kids Pradeep, 6, and Jaydeep, 4, were with me. We were walking towards Gujarat on the highway around 10 am. My brother, cousins and other villagers were behind, while the kids and I got a lift till a toll plaza. That is when API Gaikwad noticed us and enquired where we are off to. I was scared and lied about my identity.

(From right) Pappu with his mother, sister-in-law and brother, Mahendra
(From right) Pappu with his mother, sister-in-law and brother, Mahendra

"API Gaikwad dropped us near the toll plaza at Gujarat border and helped us hitch a ride in a vehicle going near to Rajasthan border. He also gave money to buy food for the kids," Pappu said in the video.

"We reached the Rajasthan border on Friday morning. Hitching a ride here became difficult. We would walk four to five kilometres and wait for a vehicle," Pappu said. During this period, a traveller demanded R3,000 for a 100-km ride in his car. Pappu arranged the money from a friend and made the payment online. "I also came across kind people, who not only gave us a lift but also food to eat," Pappu added.

Pradeep and Jaydeep (in white)
Pradeep and Jaydeep (in white)

On March 28 afternoon, the trio reached Raipur taluka in Pali district. Kalab Khurd was another 15 kilometres away and they called a relative to pick them up. Pappu's brother, Mahendra and the others reached home on Sunday morning.

API Gaikwad told mid-day that he helped Pappu as he could see that the man was going through a difficult time. "I appreciate him coming clean through the video. However, that he lied to protect himself doesn't matter. He was just trying to get home. As humans, we should always be able to help others."

Part of the total distance of 906 km Pappu and his nephews covered on foot

Truck carrying 64 to UP stopped, siblings booked

Two siblings owning and operating a truck service were on Sunday booked for allegedly ferrying 64 labourers illegally to Uttar Pradesh, Saki Naka police said. The labourers were found crammed in the truck in the early hours of the day in Powai, an official said. "Amjad Ali Razzak Shah, 32, who was driving the truck and his brother Mohammad Shah who owns the vehicle, have been booked. They were charging R2,500 per person to transport them to Uttar Pradesh," an official said. Zone X Deputy Commissioner of Police Ankit Goel said the labourers were let off while civic authorities were asked to provide them food and other basic amenities. "We registered a case under section 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code. Both have been detained," he said.

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First Published: 30 March, 2020 07:06 IST

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