Hopeful of returning to work, scores of migrants return home

Vikash Aiyappa

Pune, May 25: A number of migrant workers, who have left from Maharashtra's Pune city for their native places after being rendered jobless due to the lockdown, are hopeful that the situation will normalise and they would be able to come back to work.

But, they say since right now they have no work and are facing acute financial crunch, they have no option but to return to their hometowns and wait for time to get better.

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Talking to PTI at Pune railway station before boarding a train to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh over the weekend, Sarajuddin Shah (24), who worked as a tailor at a shop on Laxmi Road here, said since they were not getting any customers, he decided to go back to his native place.

Asked if he would return to Pune, he said, "Why would I not come back? I have been working here as a tailor for last three years. The city has given me livelihood. Once the situation normalises, I will come back to the city."

Besides Shah, at least 10 other tailors working at different shops on Laxmi Road, one of the biggest business hubs in Pune, were also waiting for the train to go back to Uttar Pradesh.

They said even if businesses open up again in Pune now, there was very little possibility that they would get customers anytime soon.

Mohan Prasad (30), another tailor from the group, said he was heading to his native place as his family there was concerned about him and asked him to come back.

"I was working at a tailoring shop on Laxmi Road for last five to six years. After the lockdown, I was getting ration kits, but survival is becoming difficult day by day, and since 'bimari' (COVID-19) is increasing in the city, my parents and wife back home are concerned and are asking me to return to Gorakhpur," he said.

However, Prasad also said he is keen to return to Pune once things become normal.

Tailor Karun Shah, who was working in Pune since last 10 years, said since the business activity will take some more time to pick up pace, he decided to go to his native place Gorakhpur and spend some time with his family.

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Ramaiyya Yadav, a native of Bihar who worked at a catering service, said he was staying in Pune's Shivajinagar area, one of the worst hit by COVID-19.

"Since living in the locality is getting difficult, and it is also very difficult to shift to another place amid the lockdown, I chose to head back home," he said while waiting for a Bihar-bound train.

"But, I will come back to Pune once the situation gets normal," he added.

The Pune district administration has so far sent over 1.2 lakh migrant workers to their respective states by Shramik Special trains.

Till Sunday, Pune district reported 5,694 COVID-19 cases and 272 deaths due to the disease.

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