Not a flight of fancy | Delhi farmer buys plane tickets to send 10 migrant workers to Bihar


At last, their dreams of returning home take wings after two months of lockdown. Ten migrant workers are flying to Bihar, thanks to their employer, a Delhi farmer, who bought their plane tickets.

Their flight to the Bihar capital Patna is at 6 a.m. on May 28 and the men, who planned to go home in April, can’t believe that they are going to their villages in Samastipur — not on foot or by cycling thousands of kilometres, or by scrambling for a seat on a crowded bus or train, but on a plane.

Lockdown displaces lakhs of migrants

I never imagined in my life that I will be travelling in a plane. I don’t have words to express my happiness. But I am also little bit nervous about what I have to do when we reach the airport tomorrow,” Lakhinder Ram, who would be returning with his son, told PTI.

He is grateful to Pappan Singh, a mushroom farmer in Delhi’s Tigipur village who helps rewrite the migrant narrative, so far about unpaid dues, hunger and arduous journeys home resulting in illness and even death.

When Lakhinder called his wife to tell her he would be leaving for Bihar on a flight, she didn’t believe him. It was only when Pappan intervened and spoke to her that the truth dawned — her husband and son Naveen Ram, who had been working for eight years in Pappan’s field, would be flying home.

Lakhinder, 50, who has been working for Pappan for 27 years, said the farmer has been taking care of their food and accommodation since the lockdown began on March 25. Pappan said he has booked tickets worth ₹68,000 and is also giving each ₹3,000 in cash so they do not face any problems when they reach their home State.

On May 15, the Supreme Court said it can’t stop migrants from walking home

He would also drop all his workers in his vehicles at the IGI Airport early on May 28 while following social-distancing norms.

“These 10 workers would have left for their homes in Bihar in the first week of April on train but they could not go due to the lockdown,” Pappan told PTI.

He said he had made several attempts to send them back to their home State in a Shramik special train but could not manage to do so.

“I could not have taken a risk by allowing my workers to walk thousands of miles as it would have put their lives in danger because we are getting to know these days that migrants meet road accidents while going home,” he said.

Supreme Court orders Centre and States to immediately provide transport, food and shelter free of cost to stranded migrant workers

Pappan said he has completed all their medical formalities, in accordance with the requirements specified, so that they have a smooth journey home.

“Medical fitness certificates have been issued by authorities to all 10 workers and they are fit to travel in a plane,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 1:12:23 AM |

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