Coronavirus update: Self-reliant India heads back home
Coronavirus update: Self-reliant India heads back home

Mumbai: A group of Rajasthani migrants, who eked out a living for years doing odd jobs near Borivali, are suddenly looking down an abyss at a grim future. Pre-lockdown, each person managed to earn between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000 per day, which was enough for them to subsist; in fact, they even managed to repatriate some of their earnings back home to their aged parents in their village in Jaisalmer.

"Our savings have almost petered out; NGOs provide us basic meals, but at times we have slept on an empty stomach. We don't know when all this will end.

We had faith in the government but that is beginning to wane; perforce, we decided to walk back to Rajasthan," said Bipin Morya, apparently unfazed at the thought of the arduous 1,100-km journey that lies ahead. Since March 25, thousands of migrants have been converging at five entry points -- Dahisar, Airoli, Thane, Mulund and Vashi.

Clutching their small rucksacks, men and women carrying infants, minor kids in tow, many without slippers, brave the scorching summer heat to turn their backs on the city that gave them their livelihood. At the end of the day, they realise that it is all pet ke khatir, which enables them to summon all their inner grit and courage for the ghar wapsi.

I spent two hours hunting for food for my wife and three kids and finally laid hands on 'sev-kurmura' and 'vada paavs'. It will last for 25 hours; after that, God will take care of us," said Ranjeet Yadav, a 'paanwala', in a tearin g hurry at Airoli, bound for his native village in Vaishali district in Bihar.

Those who are young and without families prefer to hit the road after sundown, hoping to escape the policemen's 'danda,' to walk into the sunset. Beckoning them on the horizons are their home states -- Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telangana and Karnataka.

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