- The man, 23, trekked from Nagpur to Namakkal in Tamil Nadu
- He died while resting at a shelter home in Secunderabad on WednesdayHe di
- Many workers had to undertake long journeys on foot due to lock-down
A 23-year-old man who had trekked 500 kilometres from Nagpur on his way home to Namakkal in Tamil Nadu, collapsed and died while resting at a shelter home in Secunderabad on Wednesday night. Logesh Balasubramani was one of the lakhs of migrant workers and daily wagers who have been hit the hardest by the sudden 21-day nationwide COVID-19 lockdown and in the absence of food, shelter or income, forced to undertake arduous journeys back home on foot.
"We were walking for the last three days. There was no transport. Random people gave us food. Someone gave us a lift, like truckers going back after dropping supplies. The police were beating the drivers for helping us," said Satya, one of the group of 26 - all from different parts of Tamil Nadu, who set out on foot on their long journey home from Nagpur.
The temperatures in the Nagpur-Telangana region have been hovering around 38 degrees for the last three days. All of them were carrying at least a backpack or bag each, with their most precious possessions.
When NDTV met them on Thursday morning at the shelter, they were all in shock and trauma. One of them had just collapsed less than six hours before in front of their eyes. What had happened to him could happen to any of them.
Logesh and the others were found in Bowenpally by the market yard chairperson and brought to the West Marredpally community hall to spend the night, where already 176 people, all migrants, were staying for the last four days, the numbers increasing each day.
"They told us you can stop here for the night and by morning, they said they will make arrangements for some vehicles for us to head home," said one of them. A few of them, they said had taken some vehicle and went ahead but some were stopped at Jadcherla, some others at Suryapet, they said.
"Logesh was sitting in his place and suddenly he just fell back. We call a government doctor who came and declared him dead. The body has been sent to Gandhi Hospital for post-mortem," said Akula Balakrishna, a local leader and husband of the area corporator Akula Rupha.
"We just want to go home. Please help us get the permissions. If we get a vehicle, that is great. Otherwise we will just walk home," many of them pleaded.
"Everyone says social distancing must be followed. If we stay here with so many people, even if we don't have the virus, we will get it. Isn't it better just to send us back home?" Satya said.
With permits and transport difficult to come by, Logesh was to be cremated in Hyderabad by one of his friends. Following a report by NDTV, offices of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Minister of State for Home Kishan Reddy intervened to finally send his body home so that his family can at least have a last glimpse and perform his last rites.