Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation at 8:00pm on 24 March, announcing a 21-day nationwide lockdown, a group of eight daily wage labourers left Kanpur to go to their native village in Bahraich, some 250 kilometres.
As per a report in Hindustan Times, the group ate only after a walk of hundred kilometres at a Lucknow check post. Cops offered them food from their own tiffin boxes.
The report says the group had no option but to hit the road, as their contractor told them that there would be no work for the next 21 days and they could not stay at the site anymore.
One of the men, Guddu, told the newspaper that they went to the nearest railway station first, but it was closed.
Heartbreaking stories of migrant labourers undertaking journeys of hundreds of kilometres on foot have been emerging form across the country, ever since the lockdown came into effect.
With no factories running and no businesses operating, daily-wagers are trying to reach their villages anyhow. The advisory of staying indoors and keeping physical distance may be good for their own health, but for many, it is a choice between possibility of contracting the disease and certainty of hunger.
Mohammad Kasim, along with five other men, reached Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh from Palwal in Haryana after walking for 28 hours, reported The Times of India.
“We ate biscuits and bananas as we did not have money for proper meals,” he told the newspaper.
If such migrants were helped by cops at some places, they were harassed and even beaten up at other places.
A video said to be from UP’s Badaun district showed a group of men, who had reportedly walked on foot from Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior, being punished by a cop. The policeman was seen making them crawl and jump in punishment.
The video triggered outrage on social media.
The post had been retweeted over 5,400 times, with people condemning the act of the cops.