On Sunday, a 38-year-old migrant worker who walked over 200km from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh died 80km away from home, NDTV reported. Ranveer Singh, who resides in Madhya Pradesh's Morena and worked in Delhi as a delivery agent, collapsed on the Agra highway, according to the report; eventhough a nearby shopkeeper offered him refreshments, he died from a heart attack.
In Gujarat, two women labourers who were heading for their home state of Rajasthan were run over by a freight train in Vapi district. The incident took place around 5am when the women were walking on Damanganga railway bridge between Vapi and Karambeli stations, an official told PTI. They were part of a group which was heading for Rajasthan on foot. As the others in the group went ahead, leaving the bodies on the tracks, the two women's identity was yet to be ascertained, the official added. Migrant labourers all over the country are trying to return to their home states since lockdown was announced.
On Saturday, four migrant workers from Rajasthan were crushed to death and three seriously injured when a tempo ran over them as they were walking along a highway in Maharashtra's Palghar district. The victims were among hordes of migrants who were stopped at Maharashtra-Gujarat border and sent back as they were trying to return to their home states amid lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The incident took place on Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway near Parol village in Vasai tehsil around 3am, police spokesperson Hemant Katkar told PTI. As the group of seven was walking back towards Mumbai after they were stopped at the state's border, a speeding tempo ran over them, he said.
These are just two incidents reported over the day after migrant labourers from different cities took of en masse back to their home states amid the COVID-19 lockdown. Left with no means to earn a living, they were forced to undertake long journeys on foot to their far-flung homes in the absence of any means of transport. Most of them had to walk hundreds of kilometres to reach their hometown; it was only a day back that the Uttar Pradesh government announced that it has arranged 1,000 buses to ferry migrant labourers stranded at the border districts.
Apex child rights body NCPCR on Saturday urged migrant labourers to stay put wherever they are and make decision in the best interest of their children. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights advised state governments to accommodate children living on streets in school buildings to ensure that they are protected from coronavirus.
Talking about children of families involved in seasonal labour, NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said adequate arrangements of basic facilities such as food, shelter and medicines shall be made available at the local level by panchayats or municipal authorities.
"For this, such families and children should be enlisted by the District Child Protection Unit. The entire process and status of children is to be monitored and maintained by the district collector/district magistrate," he said in a letter to all the state governments.
India is under the biggest lockdown with around 1.3 billion people asked to stay home in view of the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed 19 lives and infected over 800 people in the country. The 21-day lockdown imposed from Tuesday midnight has triggered a mass exodus of migrant workers from cities in several states to their villages, raising concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak could turn into a humanitarian crisis.
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-Inputs from PTI