NEW DELHI: Thousands of migrant workers on Monday rushed to Anand Vihar border to board a bus to return to their native villages in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh even before Chief Minister Arvind Kerjiwal announced a week-long lockdown in the national capital.
Despite Kejriwal’s appeal not to leave the city, travellers in groups kept pouring in, which led to traffic snarls at Anand Vihar and Kaushambi border like previous year when migrant labourers had started leaving the city during nationwide lockdown amid fear of losing jobs and livelihood. The rush of migrants was seen till late night at the border
Neeraj Kumar, a migrant labourer from Patna said that it is better to go back home than living at the mercy of the government or the employers. “It becomes impossible to pay up rent and arrange food for the family. I have decided not to return until the situation is completely normal in Delhi. I have children and can’t see them struggling,” said Kumar, who works with a private company.
Some of the travellers were from Haryana and even from Faridabad and Sonepat.“My employer gave me some advance — part of our salary—and allowed me to return to my village. Some of my colleagues had already gone. I don’t want to burden my employer. Hence, I decided to leave as we strongly believe that the government will extend restrictions in Delhi. I will join back when pandemic subsides,” said Vijay, a rickshaw puller.
During his digital address on Monday, CM urged migrant labourers not to panic and stay in the city assuring that their needs would be taken care of.Kamran Qureshi (name changed), a toy manufacturer from Sadar Bazaar, said that migrant workers had been overwhelmed with fear after the private bus operators hiked ticket prices exorbitantly due to rise in demand hence majority of them wanted to leave the city as soon as possible.
“Normally, a ticket to Bihar in a charted bus costs `2,000 per person. However, some are taking advantage of their fear and charging `4,000. Therefore, majority of them have decided to go back before the ticket prices increase further. Last year, several were rendered jobless and without money,” he said.