Aurangabad, May 18 (PTI) The growing number of COVID- 19 cases in Maharashtra has caused a kind of fear psychosis to such an extent that a state government bus transporting migrant workers to a Uttar Pradesh district struggled to get necessary tools to replace a flat tyre, recalls the bus driver who returned recently after completing the 3200-km journey.
Pradeep Tupe, attached to Vaijapur bus depot in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, recounted how people grew wary when they noticed the bus number-plate with 'MH' abbreviation.
Tupe and his colleague Gokul Thube left for Maharajganj district, located near the Indo-Nepal border, with the bus carrying 22 migrants from Vaijapur on May 9.
'Our bus developed a flat tyre near Ayodhya during its two-day journey to the destination Pipara Kalyan in Maharajganj district. We had tools to unbolt the flattened tyre, but we were not carrying the tools needed to unbolt the spare wheel,' Tupe told PTI on Monday.
'We sought help from nearby workshops and garrages, but as soon as they saw the bus's registration number beginning with 'MH', they just didn't cooperate,' he recalled.
'Labourers in the bus tried to convince the local people but to no avail. Finally, we broke down the bolt of the spare wheel with a stone, which took five hours,' he said.
When asked about his overall experience of the journey, Tupe said he overcame with fear while crossing the Chambal valley, which was once synonymous with dacoits.
He said the bus had to be diverted through Chambal as the borders of Jhansi were blocked.
'We remained inside the bus for nearly 96 hours during the to and fro journey. We got down only for attending nature's call. The bus was well-equipped. We were carrying food,' he said.
Tupe recalled that families of the labourers grew emotional after they reached the destination and requested us to stay back for a night.
'However, we started back immediately. And returned to Maharashtra on May 13,' he said. PTI AW NSK NSK