Coronavirus: Migrant Workers Attempt to Escape Lockdown in India

  • Migrant workers are demanding a train or bus, truck, any kind of transportation.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed regret for the situation, but said there was no alternative.
  • The government's directive to prevent the spread of coronavirus was a "Stay at Home" order.

The lockdown situation issued by the Indian government in the fight against coronavirus has led to an indescribable and inhumane situation surrounding the desperate attempt of millions of migrant workers to return home. In the capital city of Delhi, many workers from different cities, like Kottayam, are trying to return to their villages.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), also known as 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), and novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) is a viral respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It was first detected during the 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

They are demanding a train or bus, truck, any kind of transportation. Delhi’s inter-state bus terminus is full of crowding queues. With a bag in the shoulder or a sack on the head, some are standing in line for hours waiting. But the central government has given strict orders to various states of the country, sealing their borders.

Any attempt of movement must be stopped, and the lockdown directive must be strictly enforced. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed regret for the situation. At the same time, he said there was no alternative, and the country had to take such a step.

The Desperate Attempt to Return Home

The main reason why millions of migrant workers in India have become so desperate to return home is that they have no jobs, shelter, or money in light of the three-week lockdown in big cities. The government’s directive to prevent the spread of coronavirus was a “Stay at Home” order.

However, the millions of workers in the unorganized sector of the country, who work in small shops and restaurants, or who work day-to-day in the construction industry, could not muster the courage to obey this directive. They went out of their way thinking, “whatever happens, happens.” They had no means to rent a house in the slums, or how to feed their own or their families for days.

There are no trains and no buses. Even from that day, they started walking hundreds of miles to their village. From Rajasthan to Bihar, they attempted the journey.  Some have begun an adventurous journey of about twelve miles. In India’s various highways, there is a tired procession of people eating this kind of open or incense.

Delhi’s Bus Terminals Crowded with Thousands

Coronaviruses are species of virus belonging to the subfamily Coronavirinae in the family Coronaviridae, in the order Nidovirales. There are seven known strains of human coronaviruses, including COVID-19.

Meanwhile, news spread across Delhi on Saturday, with the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh arranging for 1,000 special buses to reach workers in different parts of the state. As the news spread like wildfire, people were queuing at the Anand Vihar bus terminal in East Delhi.

Thousands of people are desperately trying to get on the buses, ignoring all the instructions to maintain social distance. However, the bus service has also been shut down since Sunday, as the central government from Delhi has sent strict orders to all the states to seal the border and prevent people from going from one place to another.

Just like Uttar Pradesh, another “hinterland” state of Bihar, from which millions of people go to different parts of the country in search of work. The Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, also made it clear that he was not in favor of arranging special trains or buses to return the people of Bihar trapped in different parts of India. As he puts it, this is “because the main purpose of the lockdown would fail.”

Meanwhile, in the capital today, Delhi police have stopped the workers on the border from Delhi to Uttar Pradesh. Still, some people have been desperately trying to cross the Jamuna river from Delhi to reach the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh. As a result, millions of migrant workers from various major cities in India will eventually reach their villages within this lockdown, which is very unlikely. However, those who have walked two or three days in the meantime may be able to reach their homes.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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