Punjab: After 277 km in 6 days, group of 16 labourers starts 600 km trudge to reach hometown

Raakhi Jagga

A couple and their child, who were part of the group of 16, resting at the Rajasthan border in Sadul Shahar

They walked km from Amritsar to Sadul Shahar in Rajasthan, from where they set off for Gangapur city, their native place, another 600 km away. A group of 16 including two women and two toddlers reached Sadul Shahar around 11 am on Sunday – their sixth day on foot. As the borders were sealed, they entered through the forest area.

One of them, a man who had covered his face with a towel, said, “The villagers (in Sadul Shahar) provided us food and a place to rest. We had reached Amritsar on March 20 for labour work. We were supposed to work there throughout the summer season. But then the lockdown was announced and we got stuck there itself. Hence we started walking from Amritsar on March 24. In between, we took lifts on some tempo or truck to get some rest. We slept on the roadside wherever we stopped. On the way, some people were nice enough to offer us langar. Whatever little money we had is finished, so we had to come back."

As they walked, the group took turns to carry the two children. Another man said, "We didn't know that the borders had been sealed so we walked through the forest area. If the Rajasthan government can help us reach our village, it would be a great help. The past few days have been an ordeal for us.”

Sadul Shahar is a border town of Rajasthan's Ganganagar district and is close to Punjab's Abohar. Gangapur is more than 600 km ahead of Sadul Shahar. By noon, the group had moved ahead and local police did not provide any information of their whereabouts. Abohar SP M S Gill said, "I am not aware of any such group entering Rajasthan from Punjab. Hence I cannot comment.”