Driven once again by misinformation and misconceptions, the migrant workers are staring at an uncertain future, with several states announcing night curfews and weekend lockdowns, as India witnesses a resurgence in Covid-19 cases.
In Delhi, many migrant workers are leaving for their home states from the Anand Vihar Bus Terminal. They said they were going back to their native places amid fear of another lockdown. This time, they are prepared to handle the situation in advance so that they are not stuck in the city with no money and food, even as both union and state governments are assuring, as they did in 2020, that there would be no scarcity for the urban poor.
Besides workers in Delhi, many migrant labourers in Mumbai were seen heading to their respective native places. More than the fear of the virus, they were afraid of being stranded and not being able to earn a living.
Several states including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and others have announced a slew of restrictions including night curfews and lockdowns.
This has compelled several daily wagers to head back to their home states fearing a repeat of last year’s situation.
Last year, they were left without money and jobs due to the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
A migrant worker from Bihar, who was seen at the Anand Vihar terminal leaving for home, said it is “better to leave” now than be “stuck here” again. This comes after the Delhi government imposed a night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am till April 30 in view of the increasing cases.
Earlier, Ganesh Shetty, president of Pune Hoteliers Association, said that at least 50% of migrant workers in Pune are planning to go back to their home states due to the closure of hotels, bars and restaurants in the city.
The Maharashtra government has also announced a slew of new restrictions, including a weekend lockdown and a night curfew in the state, amid an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases.
Last year, thousands of migrant workers were seen travelling on foot, cycles to their native towns — covering hundreds of kilometres through the highways in the scorching heat — with their families.
Rendered jobless due to the lockdown, migrants, including women and children, went back to their native place despite the government assuring them food and shelter.