On the Mumbai-Nashik highway in Maharashtra, a truck packed tightly with men, woman and children waits, and waits. In the blazing 40-degree heat, it has already been five hours. The migrants are heading to Uttar Pradesh, distressed by the coronavirus lockdown, eager to reach home somehow.
The truck, carrying 57 migrants, stopped around 9 am, after it had travelled from Mumbai to Thane, apparently because the driver was waiting for more passengers.
He is charging Rs 3,000 for each rider, so the more he can cram into his vehicle, the better.
There is no space in the back of his truck, where migrants are mostly standing - and will remain standing through the trip. More than a dozen have climbed on the roof.
"The driver wants to continue with the trip but his truck owner is asking him to wait for more passengers," said an elderly man.
When it was pointed out that there was no space, the driver allegedly retorted: "It's not your business how I get people in".
The driver, they allege, also threatened to overturn the truck. The driver denied the charge.
Migrants are leaving cities like Mumbai in hordes in whatever transport they can find. This morning, hundreds of migrant labourers were seen leaving Thane for states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
Asif Patwari, a construction worker who has set out for home on foot, said, "I am coming from Alibaug and I want to reach Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. I will never come back to Mumbai. I don't have money and I have lost my house."
Across the country, migrants left without jobs or homes in states where they work have been travelling since India went into total lockdown in late March. They have been walking, cycling and hitching rides on trucks, tempos and auto-rickshaws in sheer desperation. Several migrants have lost their lives from exhaustion, illness or road accidents.