India has been witnessing record numbers of COVID cases on a daily basis for the past two weeks following which several states, including Delhi, have been forced to reintroduce lockdown-like curbs on movement.
With the trauma of last year’s lockdown still fresh in their minds and fear of a return to that miserable condition, hundreds of migrant workers along with their families packed their bags and have started returning to their native villages or towns from Delhi.
The migrant workers crowded bus stands and railway stations across Delhi on Monday.
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On Monday morning, while announcing a six-day lockdown in the national capital, Delhi State Chief Arvind Kejriwal urged migrant workers not to leave the city during this period.
Kejriwal promised the government will “take care” of the migrant workers.
However, when Sputnik spoke to some migrant workers they revealed that they do not trust the promises made by the government of taking care of them.
“Do we need to remind the government as to what had happened to us, refering to the situation they had to go through during the previous lockdown last year. So, I along with my family, are going back to our village in Bihar state. We want to avoid a situation like the previous lockdown. It is very likely that a longer lockdown will be put in place due to COVID. We will come back when the situation normalises”, said Vijay Kumar, a tea maker.
Another migrant worker from the state of Jharkhand said what’s the point of staying here when we can’t afford basic needs.
“If I am not unable to earn my daily wages to pay rent or buy rations, what is the point of staying in the city? During the last lockdown, I was stuck here for three months without a place to stay. I had to borrow money to survive. So this time I am going back as soon as I can”, said another migrant, Vinay Dang.
Last year, millions of migrant workers had to face massive hardship while returning to their native places in villages or small towns after a national lockdown shut workplaces in markets. The lockdown was declared to curb the spread of the contagious COVID-19 on 24 March.
After lockdown, these migrant workers were left without work, food, money, and even shelter. With all the transportation shut many of them had even started walking hundreds of miles to reach home. Initially, several incidents of migrant workers being stranded at state borders had also come to light.
According to the Indian Health Ministry, the country witnessed 273,810 new COVID-19 cases – a new daily record – 1,619 fatalities in the last 24 hours. Several states including Maharashtra and Punjab have also imposed strict measure to keep a check on the rising cases.