Anxious to return home after being stuck here with no work due to COVID-19 lockdown, seven workers from Uttar Pradesh boarded a flight for the first time in their life and reached Varanasi on Monday, thanks to the humanitarian gesture of their employer running a packers and movers firm in the city.
In a refreshing experience amid the heartbreaking scenes of fellow migrant workers undertaking ardous journeys by foot and cycles witnessed in various parts of the country in recent days, the seven, in the age group of 23-37, took the Indigo flight with their boss giving them a send-off.
"Our boss took good care of us as though we are his family members. He provided us atta, dhal and other essentials to help us cook our own food during the lockdown. He even disbursed us our salaries," Sanjay Kumar, one of the workers, told PTI after landing in Varanasi.
Sandeep Jain, who runs the Jain Packers and Movers, a four-year old startup firm, also sent home three other workers by train.
"They had worked for my success, so I find nothing wrong in spending some money to help them reach homes in this hour of crisis," Mr Jain told PTI, adding his workers travelled by flight for the first time in their life.
All the seven, who took the flight, hailed from Prayagraj district and along with others were provided free rented accommodation and food by Mr Jain.
Salaries were paid for two months during the lockdown period and the entire cost, including accommodation, food and tickets, worked out to about Rs four lakh, he said.
"With the lockdown totally restricting them indoors for over two months and TV new on the coronavirus pandemic making them anxious about their family members, my workers expressed the desire to return home," said Mr Jain, whose parents along with him had migrated to Chennai from Rajasthan when he was a three-year old.
Immediately he agreed and booked them flight tickets for 7 of his staff, through Indigo Airlines on May 22.
He personally saw them off at the airport here on Monday.
"With no work here and coronavirus causing panic, they wanted to go home to be reunited with their families. And when the government opened up the aviation sector, I booked the flight tickets for them," Mr Jain added.
The workers have promised to return once the COVID-19 situation improves.
After reaching Varanasi in the afternoon, they called up Mr Jain and thanked him, he added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)