BHOPAL: Clock struck 6am. The city was still in slumber, but Mubarakpur Square on Bhopal bypass road presented a different scene.
The sight portrayed the sufferings of migrants, because of lockdown which has entered the fourth phase.
Many migrants have been deprived of their jobs in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. Some of them were resting in a tent pitched by Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC).
All were waiting for a vehicle to reach their native villages in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. A few of them walked more than 200 kilometers to catch vehicles. They were lugging their possessions or carrying their household goods on head.
A few citizens and social organisations offered them food, water and medicines, they told Free Press.
Thirty-five-year-old Leelchand, along with his wife Pramila and minor son Raju, has been waiting for a vehicle for 24 hours to reach Mungeli in Chhattisgarh.
Leelchand who worked as a labourer in Rajgarh had to walk up to Bhopal bypass where he reached at 2pm on Tuesday. He said, “Sadhan mil jayega to chale jayenge nahin to baithe rahenge (If we get a vehicle we will go. Else we will stay here).”
Similarly, 50-year- old Dayashankar Jaiswal is waiting for a vehicle to reach Raipur. He arrived at Bhopal from Manawar in Dhar by a bus at 5pm on Tuesday.
He worked in a wine shop, but as the contractor of the shop changed, Dayashankar had to leave the job.
Forty-year-old Kesarbai, carrying luggage on her head, got into an auto to reach Napli in Sehore. She was with 24 members of her family who used to sell utensils in Chandrapur district in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Kesarbai said her family took 15 days to reach Bhopal.
Another member of her family made iron tools, but he had no earnings during the past three months. The Maharashtra government dropped them at MP borders. As the tyres of the bus busted they had to walk a few kilometers.
The story of 25-year-old Mamta is slightly different. She reached Bhopal from Coonoor in Andhra Pradesh with her husband Shankar and four-year-old daughter Komal. They were working in a stone quarry whose owner did not give salary.
Mamta said they were not allowed to leave Coonoor, but they sneaked out of there at night. They could get a vehicle only after wobbling for 200km, said Shankar. His family took ten days to reach Bhopal.
They know trains are available, but they could not get online ticket, because they are deprived of three R’s, he said. They will go to Alot Tehsil in Ratlam.
The yarn of 32-year-old Shivkali is no different. She worked in a brick kiln in Bhauri Bhopal and walked up to Mubarakpur. She will go to Kabirdham in Chhattisgarh. They have worked in the brick kiln for 60 days, but its owner has yet to pay wages to them. Her husband Surendra said they would never return to their place of work.
Similarly, 24-year-old Rajesh Kumar reached Bhopal from Gujarat. He said he ambled along the borders of Gujarat to catch a bus and took six days to get to Bhopal. He worked in a Filter Tax Company in Gujarat and earned Rs 8,000 per month. His destination is Babai, Hoshangabad.
The scenes at Mubarakpur Square are similar to the ones at India-Pakistan borders during the partition 73 years ago.