LUCKNOW: In a heart-rending story from Aligarh, six labourers working at a private firm in Palwal district of Haryana walked for 28 hours to cover the 86 km journey to the city of locks surviving only on biscuits after the COVID-19 lockdown was announced on Monday evening. But their ordeal was not over.
The six labourers -- Pradeep, Sanjeev, Kasim, Somveer, Ram Sahai and Manoj -- hail from Bareilly, Sambhal and Chandauasi districts of western Uttar Pradesh.
After reaching Aligarh on Tuesday evening, they parted ways to go to their respective native districts on Wednesday morning again on foot in the absence of public transport due to the lockdown.
Having left their workplace after being told not to come till the lockdown continued, they were devoid of money and had to depend on biscuits while covering the distance on foot. They left Palwal at 3 pm on Tuesday for Aligarh and were determined to cover the rest of the distance to their districts on foot, with buses and public transport off the roads.
While Pradeep, Sanjeev and Kasim belonged to Bareilly, Manoj had to reach his
village in Chandausi and Somveer and his father Ram Sahai travelled to Pathakpur in
Sambhal. All of them work together in a factory manufacturing spare parts of
motorbikes. After the Sunday ‘Janata Curfew’, they were told on Monday morning
not to come to the factory till the lockdown continued. They had nothing to sustain themselves.
As if the pressure due to the coronavirus outbreak was not enough, they lost their jobs and that too without being paid their wages. They claimed that they used to get remunerated on the 20th of every month but on March 20, they were not paid their dues as the contractor had left for his native village in Haryana due to his mother’s sudden demise.
As the situation was turning grave with each passing day, all six came together and
decided to leave for home on Monday afternoon. They started walking seeking lift for some distance from trucks carrying potatoes or vegetables, sometimes tractor trolleys taken by farmers. Most of the distance was covered on foot. With money running out, they bought a few packets of biscuits to satiate their hunger pangs.
When it grew dark, they took refuge on the varandah of a shop or under a tree on way. Thus covering a distance of over 85 km on foot, they reached the Meenakshi Bridge in Aligarh at dusk on Tuesday only to leave for their respective districts next morning. However, when Aligarh police came to know about their trauma, they arranged food and water for them. They were sent to night shelter and were given money as well so that they could reach their native villages.
When contacted, Additonal Chief Secretary, home, Awanish Awasthi said that in the wake of such stories cropping up on daily basis as more and more people were returning their villages, the state government had made arrangements to receive them on the borders of UP and providing them basic amenities including food, water, medicines, masks and sanitizer. Arrangements were also being made to ferry them to their native villages, he added.