Hungry for 3 days, 19 try to flee Mumbai over water pipeline

Updated: Apr 30, 2020, 07:21 IST | Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

The Mulund police spotted them near the Mulund-Thane section during routine drone surveillance, after which the migrant labourers were sent to a shelter and given food

Mulund police speak to the 19 labourers. Pics/Rajesh Gupta
Mulund police speak to the 19 labourers. Pics/Rajesh Gupta

In another incident that underlines the abject plight of migrant labourers, the Mulund police found 19 of them attempting to walk home to UP on foot in a bid to escape hunger and unemployment. The group was spotted sitting on a water pipeline during drone surveillance on Wednesday evening. What surprised the police was that usually, people run away as soon as they notice drones. However, these labourers, trying to escape hunger in the city, did not flinch and stared back at the drone. The group appeared to be headed in the direction of Thane.

The police across the state are using drones to keep an eye on their jurisdiction amid the COVID-19 lockdown. The police spotted this group around 7pm on Wednesday during routine surveillance and went for a closer look.

Vijay Prajapati, a migrant
Vijay Prajapati, a migrant

The police noticed a few people sitting on a pipeline that supplies water. The drone was lowered to get a better look at the people and police counted 19 people sitting, observing the drone.

"People run away after they realise a drone is tracking them. But these people did not. We thought they are resting. All of them had bags hoisted on their backs or lying by their side," said an officer from Mulund police station. "We informed a patrolling van and some local politicians who rushed to the Veena Nagar," the officer added. The 19 people were taken to Mulund police station where cops and MLA Mihir Kotecha spoke to them.

Brahmadatta Tiwari
Brahmadatta Tiwari

"Of the 19, 16 reside in Sonapur, Bhandup West and six are from Goregaon East. All are daily wage labourers," said Kotecha.

"They all belong to a village near Balrampur near Lukhnow, Uttar Pradesh. They planned to go to their hometown walking. All of them have been taken to Bhandup Shelter Home, where they will be given food."

A screenshot of the video of the labourers taken during drone surveillance by Mulund police. Pics/Suresh Karkera
A screenshot of the video of the labourers taken during drone surveillance by Mulund police. Pics/Suresh Karkera

Sonapur resident Vijay Kumar Prajapati, 38, said, "We all live in one single room. We don't have a single rupee in our pocket now. We have no option but to walk back to our home where our family is. We haven't had proper food for the past three days. So, instead of starving, we chose this path."

Brahmadatta Tiwari, 40, a Goregaon East resident, said, "We all belong to the same village. We discussed among each other about what to do as money and provisions are ending. With no other option left, we decided to walk back home."

Mulund police informed the labourers that the government has allowed for states to take back their migrants and if they want, they will be taken home.

Time on Wednesday evening that the drone spotted the migrants on the pipeline

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