No migrant labourer should walk back to home in Uttar Pradesh on foot from big cities like Delhi, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed the state officials on Thursday amid coronavirus pandemic. The state government "has been actively engaged in bringing them (migrants) back safely", a statement from Chief Minister's office read.
The Chief Minister's directions to state officials to make arrangements for migrant labourers and their families come as many of these labourers - young and old - and their children continue to cover journey of hundreds of kilometres on foot as the lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus continues.
"The Chief Minister has issued categorical directions to the officials to ensure that no migrant labour returns to the state while travelling on foot. He assured that the state government has been actively engaged in bringing them back safely," a statement issued by the chief minister's office said.
Last evening, after the chief minister's orders, around 172 workers trying to walk home from Delhi and Noida were stopped by the UP Police on a highway in west UP's Bulandshahr, about 514 km from state capital Lucknow.
In videos shot on mobile cameras, workers and their families were seen sitting on a road surrounded by policemen; they were later given food and moved to a college in the area. The local administration has promised to arrange buses for the workers today to send them home.
Hundreds of migrant workers trying to walk home to UP from neighbouring states - Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan - were stopped by the police in another town in west UP - Firozabad - on Thursday. They had already walked hundreds of kilometres before they were stopped.
They were also taken to a nearby college and buses will arranged for their hometowns today. Many of these workers have alleged that any help on the highway comes at a steep price, not affordable for those walking home.
"We are coming from Rajasthan's Alwar. We found a truck but the driver asked for money. He took Rs 100 for a 10-km journey. But the cops stopped the truck and we taken off the truck. We thought some proper food arrangements would be made but just some rice pulao was given to us in limited quantities" said Nitin Goswami, a migrant worker from east UP. His wife and 2 year old child accompanied him.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, the state government has brought back around 5 lakh migrant workers and their families on state-run buses.
After special trains were started by central government last week, UP is expecting another 2 lakh migrants. Despite this, many migrant workers and their families are being forced to walk home because buses are either unavailable on their routes now or because they claim they claim they have no idea of how to avail the government services.