BHOPAL: They were not migrant labourers but priests in one of the Shiva temples in Mumbai’s Kurla area. Now, they are sleeping on the road during their journey to home in Uttar Pradesh (UP).
They are part of the last batch of returnees who strived against all odds during the lockdown to leave for native places. “All we had now has finished. It is due to repeated extension of lockdown,” says one of the priests. The priests say their relatives asked them to return home in UP. While in Mumbai, they helped others and fed a few during lockdown but ran out of essentials. As a result, they decided to return to their native state. “But we will return to Mumbai once normalcy is restored,” says one of them.
Shreedhar Tiwari, the eldest of them, slept on a mat spread on Mubarakpur highway. Along with Tiwari, his family members including minors also slept on the road. Tiwari said they had been residing as priests in Kurla for several years and never faced any difficulty till the pandemic broke out. Some of priests said their return to Mumbai depends on the situation, which is not favourable at present.
The other two priests, Deenanath Tiwari and Hari Prasad Dubey said the situation didn’t favour migrants initially. “But how long could we stay as lockdown has been extended for more than two months?” he remarked. The Mubarakpur toll plaza that once remained crowded with migrants shows steady decline of people passing through it.