A gruelling journey from Maharashtra that ended on a sweet note

Good samaritan helps travel-weary migrant workers from T.N. return home

Published - April 05, 2020 11:32 pm IST - TIRUCHI

TIRUCHI/ TAMILNADU: 05/04/2020: The seven men who were found walking by volunteers at the Chennai Bypass Road on the way to their hometown in Tiruvarur.

TIRUCHI/ TAMILNADU: 05/04/2020: The seven men who were found walking by volunteers at the Chennai Bypass Road on the way to their hometown in Tiruvarur.

After travelling over 1,000 km from Maharashtra by walking for days at a stretch and hitchhiking, a heavenly feeling descended on seven youths belonging to Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts when a good samaritan in Tiruchi volunteered to drop them off at their homes.

The group of engineering graduates, employed at a company that manufactures agricultural products in Nanded district, were caught unawares by the announcement on the COVID-19 lockdown.

Though their employer had arranged for food, Nitish Kumar, R. Vijayan, B. Bharathan, S. Rahul, V. Jegan, S. Prabhu and Shoban Babu were longing to get back home, and began their journey on March 29.

“We covered at least 500 km on foot. Kind souls in many villages provided us food and water despite the language barrier,” said Mr. Kumar, adding, “We also hitched rides on trucks and autorickshaws and spent nights at petrol bunks.”

The most difficult part of their journey was the stretch from Nanded to Solapur in Maharashtra, Mr. Kumar said. “It was night time, and not a single creature was in sight. We only had each other for company, and a will to go home,” he said.

Parents didn’t know

Mr. Babu said they had not informed their parents about their trip. “Had we told them, they would have kept worrying for our safety. They did not know until we reached home,” he said. “All along, we pretended that we were staying in Maharashtra,” he said.

The men were on the last leg of the journey on the Chennai Bypass Road — the Cauvery Bridge — when Arun Kumar, a photographer from Tiruchi, spotted them looking weary. “They looked exhausted. When I stopped them and asked them who they were, they narrated their tale,” Mr. Arun said.

He informed the District Collector, sought a travel pass and volunteered to take the youths to their destination.

They were dropped off at the Tiruvarur Government Hospital on Saturday evening. “We were asked to stay the night there, and were subjected to blood tests. We were allowed to go home only after the tests came back negative,” Mr. Babu said.

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