Migrant workers scramble to leave the Capital... again

Many willing to pay double for a bus ticket to their home towns; police deployed to manage crowd at Anand Vihar Inter-State Bus Terminal

April 20, 2021 12:17 am | Updated 12:17 am IST - NEW DELHI

GHAZIABAD, UTTAR PRADESH , 19/04/2021: Creamation in progress of people who died due to Covid19 virus near Hindon Canal, on Monday., .Photo: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA / The Hindu

GHAZIABAD, UTTAR PRADESH , 19/04/2021: Creamation in progress of people who died due to Covid19 virus near Hindon Canal, on Monday., .Photo: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA / The Hindu

Within hours of the six-day lockdown being announced by the Delhi government, migrant workers were seen leaving the Capital in hordes using whatever means of transport they could find at Anand Vihar ISBT.

Many of them feared a possible extension of the curfew beyond April 26.

Ashok Pal, a resident of Lakhimpur Kheri, said the ordeal he and his family faced during the 2020 lockdown is still fresh.

He returned to Delhi only around four months ago to resume work. However, fearing a new lockdown, he is leaving the city with his family again.

‘Curfew may extend’

“First they [the Delhi government] announced a lockdown at night, then on the weekends and now for six days. By any logic, the duration of the lockdown will keep increasing. Last time, we didn’t even have food to eat; it was a dark time and I don’t want to put my family and myself through the same thing again,” complained Shalabh Kumar, a construction worker, from Prayagraj as he waited in a serpentine queue at a ticket booking counter at Anand Vihar ISBT.

Migrant workers complained that government buses are overcrowded and private buses operators are overcharging. But there are many passengers who agreed to pay double the amount in order to get seats.

Policemen deployed at the terminal instructed bus operators not to overcrowd buses as operators are charging double for the seat and half the amount if passengers travel on roof of the bus.

Kiran Kushwaha, a resident of Allahabad, who was waiting with her two children for her husband at Anand Vihar bus stop, said, “My husband has gone to arrange bus tickets, we will leave the city today. If we don’t get tickets then we will look for some other option but will leave the city.”

“Last time there was no milk and food for children but this time we won’t fall for ‘empty’ promise just to suffer,” said Ms. Kiran.

Bhola Prasad from Patna said last year’s national lockdown to contain the pandemic had taught him not to trust governments. “No one helped people like us, who dig a well every day to be able t o drink from it. We were left to beg for food,” he said.

‘Never trust govts.’

“But while that taught me to trust the goodness of a few strangers in the city, I do not trust any government — whether the Central government or the State government– whether Delhi or Bihar. They will make any kind of announcement leaving us to fend for ourselves and our families,” he complained, adding that he did not mind paying “almost double” the usual price of a bus ticket.

The police deployed personnel for crowd and traffic management at Anand Vihar railway station and bus stop. A senior officer said that there is no ban on inter-State travel. They are asking people to maintain social distancing and wear mask while boarding train or buses.

Alok Kumar, Joint CP (Eastern Range) said, “We have deployed policemen for crowd and traffic management at Anand Vihar. Senior officers have been deployed on ground to keep a close watch on movement and to avoid any chaotic situation.”

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