For India’s stranded workers, an impossible choice: Destitution or a dangerous road home- Washington Post


Millions of Indian migrants were wrecked by the lockdown that was announced on 24th March. Restrictions on nonessential businesses and all forms of long-distance travel – is expected to end on May 17.

For migrant workers, the choices they make will reshape their lives. These workers long for their home miles away from where they are stranded. Glimpses of “mass exodus of people on foot” have already overwhelmed the people of India. NYT reported, “Men, women and children have walked,, bicycled, hitchhiked, pulled handicrafts and stuffed their bodies into concrete mixers in a desperate bid to go home.”

This journey as it has been reported is not without dangers. “Dozens have perished in accidents or from sheer exhaustion. Last week, a group of migrant workers were crushed to death by a freight train after they fell asleep on a railway track after walking for miles”, said the report.

Government has taken some steps to transport stranded workers through trains and buses. But that step has been mired in confusion, with ticket rates being higher than what these workers earn.

Most of them are caught between whether to stay or go – and some are being forced to stay by employers who don’t want to lose their workforce. In Karnataka, real estate developers asked the government to order the halt of special trains for migrants.

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Some states worry that the returning migrants could spread the virus. Bihar, a major source of migrant workers is reluctant to accept the returning workers.

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