The sweeping lockdown imposed by the government in the entire country has left many stranded in different cities. The daily wage workers and labourers are the worst hit by the restrictions that prevents travelling from one place to another over fear of the spread of coronavirus. As a result of the lockdown and non-availability of public transport and police strictly enforcing the lockdown rules, it has become difficult for them to move from one city to another. Economic activities have also been halted as part of the lockdown.
Although partial restrictions were in place for the past few days in different states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday night announced a complete lockdown in the country and urged the people to remain where they are and not to rush their hometowns or villages in a bid to check the spread of deadly virus.
Though the doctors and scientists are working round-the-clock to find an antidote to kill the virus, the delay has only added to the woes. The government has assured that food will be made available to every poor and even announced a slew of measures to reach out to them. However, the situation is turning grimmer with each passing day.
On the second day of lockdown, many daily wagers in different parts of the country have started leaving for their native place on foot as rail and road traffic have been suspended by the government to prevent mass gathering.
Such a case has been reported from Chandrapur in Maharashtra where a 26-year-old daily wager walked over 135 km without food to reach his home. Narendra Shelke, who worked as a labourer in Pune, decided to go back to his native Jambh village in Saoli tehsil of Chandrapur district after government suspended works and halted the movement of public transport.
The labourer said he somehow managed to catch the last train from Pune to Nagpur, but got stranded in Nagpur. When he was unable to find any assistance and left with no other option, Shelke started a foot march. He walked for two days without food and survived only on water. He reached his village in Chandrapur on Tuesday.
In Uttar Pradesh’s Etawah, several daily wage workers were seen walking along Agra-Kanpur Highway for their homes in nearby districts. Awadhesh, a daily wager, said, "I started my journey from Sirsaganj area of Firozabad and will go to Ghatampur in Kanpur, a distance of roughly 220 km."
Noor Jahan, another daily wager, said she was left with no other option but to walk. "Since yesterday, I am walking towards my home in Abakarpur area of Kanpur Dehat. I hope to reach my home in a day or two. I am hungry but can not do anything about it here," she said.
Situation is no different in other parts of the country. People, mostly poor, are looking for options to return to their homes due to panic built up over the lockdown.
In Mathura, news agency ANI reported that when a truck driver saw many people walking alongside the road, he stopped and enquired why they are walking. Upon learning that they are daily wage workers and towards their home in Agra, he decided to drop their to the village.
Shanti Pal, who sells chhole-bhature in Delhi’s in Andrews Ganj area, said, "I started from Andrews Ganj and going to my home in Badaun (Uttar Pradesh). I hope to reach there by tomorrow. I have not eaten anything since yesterday."
According to the Health Ministry data, the number of coronavirus cases climbed to 649 in India on Thursday and the death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 13.