COVID-19 lockdown: 'Migrants not from UP, Bihar sidelined'
Out of money and patience, family of 10 from Telangana says their savings would have been intact had they been given time to go home before lockdown
Continuing their long walks home in different directions of the country, migrants from states other than Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are rueing the fact that not only did their savings get exhausted during the lockdown, but authorities are not paying attention to their plight.
"We were staying at an under-construction building in Badlapur for which we were working as labourers. When the lockdown began, the work stopped and we had to spend our saved money. With no work and money, we would have starved to death. Hence, we started walking to our village in Telangana," said Shaartha Shambhu, 55, who was walking with his nine family members. Mid-day met the group at the old Mumbai Pune highway.
They started from Badlapur at 5 am on Friday and after walking 40 km, reached Barvai village ahead of Panvel at 4 pm.
A woman from the group who did not wish to be named, said, "The number of migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is more in Maharashtra, so the focus is on first helping them. Nothing much is being done for workers from other states. Had the government allowed us to leave before the lockdown hit, we would have reached comfortably and saved money that we have wasted here."
The group said that there are Good Samaritans on the way. One such was a local tempo driver who offered them a ride as he was going in the same direction.
Another family from UP were waiting near a village before Khopoli for a bus to reach Panvel.
Gopilal Chaudhary from Lalitpur was working as a caretaker at a farmhouse near Kalokhe village near Khopoli. He is taking his family home and has vowed to never return.
Mukesh Chaudhari (centre) is headed to UP with 10 others. Pics/Ranjeet Jadhav
"The times are very painful, we don't want to die of starvation. We have filled the forms to get a train and are hopeful that the government will arrange for one," Chaudhary said.
Mukesh Chaudhary and ten others from villages adjacent to his were also returning to UP. "I used to sell pav in and around Kalokhe village, but in the past month, I haven't earned a single rupee. Before the situation goes from bad to worse, we want to reach home," Mukesh said. The group was headed to Panvel in the hope of getting accommodated on a Shramik Special.
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