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India’s migrant workers on long walk home amid lockdown

India’s migrant workers on long walk home amid lockdown

DPA
New Delhi
Rendered jobless by India’s nationwide lockdown, daily wage workers were leaving cities and trekking long distances to reach their villages amid fears that the reverse migration could result in spreading the deadly virus in the countryside.
Millions of day labourers with no prospect of income during the three-week lockdown were running out of food and said their families might fall prey to hunger and starvation before they catch the deadly disease.
Groups of migrant workers abandoned caution and risked police anger to walk along empty highways across states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.
Police in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday evening rescued 16 workers who were walking to their native village in the adjoining Bihar state - a distance of 335 kilometres - during the lockdown, area police chief Hemant Kutiyal said.
“They walked some 40 kilometres along a railway track. They had not eaten in three to four days and were in a bad shape, some without even footwear. We gave them medical aid and arranged their transport home,” he said.
A group of 20 workers on a 36-hour journey from their steel factory to their village covered 80 kilometres in the blazing hot sun, broadcaster NDTV reported.
Thousands of migrant workers have crammed into shelters.
“My fear is that if they return to their remote villages with no clinics and spread the infections it will become an uncontrollable situation,” senior regional minister Saurabh Bhardwaj told reporters.
India has a total of 645 positive cases of Covid-19 and thirteen people have died, according to the Health Ministry.

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