India lockdown: Rajasthan migrant workers in Gujarat leave for homes on foot

Vaibhav Jha
India lockdown: Rajasthan migrant workers in Gujarat leave for homes on foot

Labourers began walking from Ahmedabad to the nearest town in Rajasthan soon after PM Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown. (Express photo)

Over 2000 daily wage workers and migrant labourers in Gujarat, mainly Ahmedabad, travelled all through Tuesday night on foot and by other means of transport to reach Rajasthan's Bicchiwara tehsil on Wednesday afternoon, immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus.

With bags in their hands and over their shoulders, hundreds of men, women and children began walking in clusters from parts of Ahmedabad, such as Sarkhej, Asarwa, Shahpur, Narol, Nikol and Naroda between 7 and 9 pm to reach Rajasthan's Dungarpur village— the nearest border, 125 kilometers away from Ahmedabad.

Thirty-two-year-old Dashrath Yadav, a native of Banswara in Rajasthan, employed as a labour contractor, started walking with 12 of his daily wage-earning friends around 7 pm on Tuesday from Asarwa area of Ahmedabad. He said he had walked for four hours before he could find a means of transportation.

“We reached Himmatnagar by 11 pm, where we were stopped at a police nakabandi. We were then told to hop onto a truck that was going to Aravalli. At least, 100 people loaded on to the truck and we travelled all night, at a snail speed due to heavy police checking in each district. We just had our handkerchiefs on our faces as safety. Without any food and water, we reached Shamalaji in Aravalli and from there, we again started walking on foot for two hours and then reached Bichhiwara bus station in Dungarpur,” Yadav told The Indian Express.

Meanwhile, at Bichhiwara bus station, hundreds of people were seen lining up outside ticket counters.

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“We have our labourer brothers from Jaipur, Jodhpur, Banswara, Dungarwara and Udaipur in majority over here. I also started walking after 9 pm, when the lockdown was announced and somehow reached here, without food or water. Finally, we received some refreshment in Bichhiwara," said Shankarbhai Yadav, another labourer from Banswara.

According to government officials of Rajasthan, over 2000 people from Ahmedabad reached the Bichhiwara bus station by Wednesday morning despite lockdown.

“We have arranged three Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation buses and 15-20 private mini buses and vehicles for the stranded people. They are being placed in the buses one by one to ensure social distancing is maintained,” said Amrit Patel, Bichhiwara tehsildar, Dungarpur.