BHOPAL: The worsening COVID-19 second wave and fears of total lockdown in Mumbai have seen many autorickshaw drivers and migrant workers leaving the city and heading to their home state of Uttar Pradesh.
On Saturday morning, a clutch of autorickshaws boarded by autorickshaw drivers and migrant workers who were all returning to UP were seen in Dhar district of MP.
The Maharashtra registration numbered autorickshaws on the way to UP from Mumbai were spotted on NH-59 in Dhar district -- around 50 km from Indore. Two of those autorickshaws were bound for Farukhabad district.
"We're returning home, as there is already weekend lockdown and night curfew in Mumbai and we fear it could turn into complete lockdown in the days to come. There is no business and income for us in Mumbai anymore, which is why myself and others from Farrukhabad district of UP, who are related to me are returning home," said Jan Mohammad, who drives an autorickshaw owned by a relative seen returning home in the same autorickshaw.
Following Jan Mohammad in another autorickshaw was fellow autorickshaw driver Noor Alam, who resides in the same Meera Road-Bhayandar area of Mumbai.
"We've been left with no income owing to the weekend lockdown and fearing a possible complete lockdown like last year, we'd have no option, but to return to our native Farrukhabad district in UP. We'll help our family in harvesting the sugarcane crop in Farrukhabad and even run the autorickshaw there to earn income, till the situation becomes normal in Mumbai," Noor Alam.
Some others from their village in Farrukhabad said that many more autorickshaws and migrant workers have left for their home state UP in autorickshaws and the numbers of those returning are likely to rise in the coming days.
The free ride for these autorickshaw drivers also exposed the tall claims of the MP government of having sealed the MP-Maharashtra border for passenger vehicles in the wake of the COVID-19 second wave surge in Maharashtra