Migrant labourers returning to their villages in Uttar Pradesh and caught in the lockdown are now forced to walk long distances to get home.
These labourers, who are now reaching the state capital Lucknow on freight trains, are finding themselves stranded because all forms of public transport are suspended.
Anuj Kumar, a worker in a garment factory in Ludhiana, travelled atop a freight train with his co-workers and reached Lucknow on Tuesday night.
“When our unit shut down and the owner asked us to go back, we found that all trains had stopped. We sat atop a goods train and found that the country had been put under lockdown. I live in Barabanki while some of my friends live in Bahraich. I guess we will now have to walk to our homes,” he said.
This group – like many others is braving the police wrath on the way, but there is no alternative for them.
The labourers are aware of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s order to stay wherever they are during the lockdown period, but say that they have no option.
“Where can we stay? We have limited money and cannot survive on the roads. We need to reach home at the earliest,” they said.
Most of the labourers have not eaten for the past several hours.
They belong to the unorganised sector and are not beneficiaries of free food and Rs1,000 per month being offered by the Uttar Pradesh government.
As temperatures rise by the hour, they often move through the lanes and fields to avoid highways where the police presence is strong.
“It took us more than five hours to travel from the railway station to the Faizabad road because we wanted to avoid confrontation with the police,” said Anuj.
His friend Sudhir said: “I feel that the police should understand our predicament and maybe offer us a lift for some distance. But that is, perhaps, hoping for too much.”
lCurfew passes, which empower the holder to step out of home during the lockdown, have emerged as the new status symbol in Goa.
Apart from monitoring their respective departments, largely through phone or e-mail, ministers in Goa are busy fending off questions from home-trapped elites about how to obtain curfew passes which could help them circumvent the ongoing curfew and step out onto Goa’s open and empty streets.
“The curfew pass has become a VIP fashion. People would normally request us for special passes to the ISL (Indian Super League) or VIP passes to important musical or political events. But, ever since the curfew pass system was announced, everyone seems obsessed with getting that pass,” a cabinet minister told IANS on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced that curfew passes would be issued only to those involved in providing essential services like nominated employees of the state Public Works Department, Electricity Department, sanitation workers, etc., to ensure that repair and maintenance work related to these services was not hampered.
The passes were also to be handed out to key government officials as well as select journalists.
Apart from fending off eager queries about the passes, ministers like Nilesh Cabral are adapting to the use of phones and e-mail to tackle department exigencies and passing on instructions to the staff.
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