The long and gruelling road did not take them home

Five workers in a garment unit in Bengaluru have reached Vijayapura after travelling for five days, but Aligarh is far away

Published - April 02, 2020 11:29 pm IST -

Some respite:  The five workers of Uttar Pradesh are being given food and shelter by the district administration in Vijayapura.

Some respite: The five workers of Uttar Pradesh are being given food and shelter by the district administration in Vijayapura.

It took five gruelling days for Mohammed Nadeem and four of his friends to reach Vijayapura from Bengaluru, which is about 500 km away. Their hopes of going back to their home town, Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, are on hold for now, as they are spending time at a temporary shelter in Vijayapura.

Workers in a garment unit in Bengaluru for about six years, they were forced to vacate the house in K.R. Market area by the owner once the lockdown began. He suspected they could be carriers, though they showed no symptoms. That is when they decided to return to their home town by some means.

No work, no shelter

“With no work, we decided to take a chance to travel to Uttar Pradesh. But landed here,” Mr. Nadeem said.

They reached National Highway 13 (which starts in Mangaluru and goes up to Solapur, touching Bengaluru and Vijayapura en route). “Since buses and trains are cancelled, we somehow reached the national highway, hoping that at least the lorries will help us,” he said. They had to change seven trucks before they reached Vijayapura. However, they ran out of luck with transport and money here and are staying put in the temporary shelter in a wedding hall.

Ibne-Ali, another person of the group, said that truck drivers collected ₹5,00 to ₹1,000 from them only for around 50 km. “All our savings are gone in paying the truck drivers. We slept on the roadside and ate whatever we could get on the way,” he said.

“We are thankful to the officials here for giving us at least this facility. We are getting free food and shelter,” Mr. Nadeem said. Though all of them are eagerly waiting to go home, they are also aware that during lockdown they cannot move out.

Boys from Udupi

The same shelter also has a group of 13 boys from Udupi, who were working in Mumbai and are currently jobless. They said they were working in different hotels in Mumbai, but after the announcement of the lockdown, reached up till Vijayapura city a week ago in private vehicles. But after reaching here, they had no vehicles to move further. The district administration has provided them food and shelter.

In other districts too

In Belagavi district, around 1,000 migrant workers have been housed in temporary camps set up in government hostels and residential schools in Belagavi city, Bailhongal, Hukkeri, and Kittur.

Meanwhile, every day, scores of labourers keep walking into Belagavi district to reach other districts. Dundappa Pujari and his brother have walked around 200 km from Maharashtra to reach their home town of Kushtagi. Siddu Tammanna, and his wife have reached Muddebihal after walking for around 180 km from Chandagad in Maharashtra.

The situation is similar in Bidar. Srikant Navdagi, an electrician who was stuck in Hyderabad after lockdown, has reached his native village, Khatak in Bhalki taluk of Bidar, with 12 others engaged in various kinds of small jobs.

Most of them did not even receive their salary for the March, but have together spent around ₹26,000 for transportation, while during regular season it could cost around ₹8,000 for the same distance.

Seven members of three families, who have returned from Mumbai to Basavakalyan, have had to walk miles while they got transport for only part of the way. “We walked for two days,” said Ramesh, who worked in a garment factory. They caught a Hyderbad-bound truck at Pune and got off at Basavakalyan.

(With addit0ional inputs from Rishikesh Bahadur Desai in Belagavi and Praveen Para in Kalaburagi.)

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