Last year, during the lockdown in the wake of the first Corona wave, the city was witness to a massive human tragedy as tens and thousands of migrant workers travelled, in some cases, hundreds of kilometres on foot, to reach their homes.
It appears that the same situation is unfolding once again as hundreds of migrant workers were seen returning to their homes along the Pithampur Road, Bypass and Ring Road on Friday night.
The exodus has begun. Though many industries are still operational, the lockdown has instilled a sense of fear among the migrant workers. In many cases, the lockdown has taken away the jobs of those who used to work in small shops, eateries, markets etc. Now, they are heading home as they cannot afford to live in the city without work.
Free Press talked to a number of such migrant workers who were headed home.
Ramesh native of a village in Maharashtra said that he used to work in a factory in Pithampur. The work at his place is on but he is now scared that if the situation worsens like last year then they would be stuck in the city without money or food. So he, along with three other colleagues, is returning home.
Kannju Bheel of Jharkhand said that last year also he had returned home during the lockdown and had to struggle a lot. He said that at that time Indorians had provided food packets and other things to the migrants but this year the roads are deserted and there is no one to help. He feared that things might get worse, so it was better to return home.
Suganda Bai, said that she used to work in a factory but due to the first lockdown, she lost her job. She somehow managed to survive in the city by becoming a housemaid. But her employer sacked a few days back her citing rising corona cases with the promise to take her back once the situation improves. With no job in hand, she decided to head home.
This time the migrants were not walking back to their hometowns but they hired cabs, auto-rickshaws, e-bikes, and other vehicles. Many migrants helped others by giving a lift to those who were walking.