BELAGAVI: They were caught at a toll plaza late Tuesday, packed like sardines in a can – 101 migrants huddled together in a truck, under a tarpaulin, on a 1,900-km gruelling journey from Bengaluru to Jodhpur in Rajasthan. As they crawled off the truck, it once again brought to light the extreme distress and desperation of migrant workers’ wish to go back to their homes.
Frustrated by the prolonged lockdown and travel restrictions, 101 workers got into the 16-wheel truck (RJ 19-4089) from Magadi Road in Bengaluru late Monday, to reach Jodhpur. They had crossed five districts by the time they were caught on the NH-4 plaza at Hirebagewadi in Belagavi district, and would have crossed into Maharashtra had they slipped past two more police checkposts.
On untying the tarpaulin, police found them herded together like sheep, clinging on to each other.
A large team of health workers conducted medical tests on them at the CPED Ground in Belagavi city on Wednesday. Belagavi City Corporation Commissioner Jagadish K H told TNIE, “After taking them into custody at Hirebagewadi, they were made to undergo medical tests at CPED Ground after which arrangements were made to quarantine them at the social welfare department’s hostel in Belagavi. None of them showed any symptoms of Covid-19. We are trying to arrange seats for them on Shramik Special trains to send them home.”
DCP Seema Latkar said the workers had taken a huge risk by travelling in the truck, to escape the police. The workers may have been trying to avoid getting quarantined and decided to travel on the truck. They are likely to be sent with 400 other workers to Rajasthan on Thursday by train, she said.