A boy, dead tired from a walk his little body can hardly take, sleeps on a suitcase being wheeled by his mother. The weight has almost doubled for the woman, who drags the suitcase and her sleeping son both, but doesn't slow down as she keeps pace with the small group walking on the highway in Agra, Uttar Pradesh.
As reporters asked where she was heading, the mother said: "Jhansi".
Why were they not taking one of the many state government buses arranged for migrants to travel in the lockdown?
No reply. The woman is too exhausted to talk. As the group moves on, without talking to journalists, the little boy is still asleep.
The group had apparently started their long journey on foot from Punjab, and was heading to Jhansi - a distance of 800 km.
Fellow journos @arvindcTOI and Naseem have shared this video and info on this video shot in west UP's Agra , where this exhausted child latches on to a suitcase dragged by his mother - the family was walking between Punjab and Jhansi in UP . @OfficeOfDMAgra where are the buses ? pic.twitter.com/7ck4lWaECf— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) May 14, 2020
These visuals are the latest to join the wrenching montage of migrant families forced to travel home, left without jobs, homes or any money since the country went into lockdown in late-March to slow the spread of coronavirus. Over the weeks, the migrants left their places of work in hordes, starting on foot, on cycles or in trucks and autos for their villages in states hundreds of km away.
Many have lost their lives before reaching home, either in road accidents or from hunger, exhaustion or illness.
Buses or trains arranged recently are no help for those already on the move. Many find the train tickets too costly or paperwork laborious.
A group of migrant workers started off from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, after the brick factory they worked in shutdown. Taking their families, they set off on cycles.
One man was pulling his two young children, sleeping on the cycle and somehow balanced on a bed made from blankets. A 500-km journey lay ahead.