Coronavirus: Stranded migrant workers throng Anand Vihar ISBT in Delhi to take govt-organised buses back home

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 29, 2020, 12.04 AM(IST) Edited By: Sonal Gera

Coronavirus in India Photograph:( PTI )

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People — only some wearing masks — waited in long queues to board buses at the Anand Vihar Interstate Bus Terminal in Delhi.

It was a rather unpleasing sight at Anand Vihar ISBT in Delhi on Saturday, when thousands of daily wage workers and labourers swarmed up, hoping to take a bus back to their hometowns and villages. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a 21-day lockdown, most of them lost employment and lodging. With no income and nowhere to stay they had no option but to brave the Covid-19 epidemic and try to return home.

People — only some wearing masks — waited in long queues to board buses at the Anand Vihar Interstate Bus Terminal in Delhi.

The Uttar Pradesh government announced earlier that it had arranged 1,000 buses to transport migrant labourers stranded in the border districts owing to the countywide lockdown. The Delhi government also announced 100 buses for those trying to reach their homes in other states on foot.

These buses were, however, packed to the hilt.

Although the police had made people stand in three queues, the serpentine lines didn't seem to end as there was a steady flow of migrant workers who wanted to go back to their towns and villages citing lack of employment due to the lockdown.

Good Samaritans distributed food to those preparing for their journeys.

Jwatam Kumar (24), who works in a faucet factory, said his unit had been shut due to the lockdown. He is paid Rs 8,000 a month on a fortnightly basis. With no means of making a living and paying for food and accommodation, he wanted to go back home in Aligarh.

"I had made up my mind to walk back, but now I heard through news channels that Uttar Pradesh government has made provision of taking people to their homes. So, I will take the bus," said Kumar, who was headed to Anand Vihar ISBT.

Sachin Kanojia (29), who took a shared auto-rickshaw from Rohtak to Delhi that charged Rs 500 per seat, said the factory he worked in was closed due to the lockdown. He earns Rs 10-12,000 per month but now with no income for the next three weeks, he was heading back home.

"I will get a bus from Anand Vihar," said Kanojia, who was headed to Lucknow.

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Like Kanojia and Kumar, Omkar Maurya too was headed home to Amethi. Maurya, who works as a daily wage worker putting up tents for marriage ceremonies, said with no money in his pocket it was better for him to go back home.

"Now that there are bus services, it is good that I go back home till the situation becomes normal," Maurya said. 

India is reeling under the coronavirus wave, and with the number of cases shooting upto 918 on Saturday — including 19 deaths, the daily wage workers have a questionable future ahead.