Homeless with no income, migrant workers in Delhi left on rickshaw carts to their homes in Bihar. When asked why they left on carts, they say they struggled every single day to feed themselves and their families.
Migrant workers, who left Delhi with their belongings on rickshaw carts, on the Kanpur-Lucknow highway. (Photo:India Today)
Forty-year old Bichkul Mandal, a resident of Bhagalpur district is extremely tired. Mandal has been riding his wooden rickshaw cart since last six days under the scorching heat to reach his home in Bihar from Delhi.
Mandal is not alone. There are many migrants like him who were left with no option but to embark on the long march home after they were left with no food and zero income.
“I have been working in Delhi since last 10 years as a rickshaw cart puller. Since the lockdown came into effect, there was no source of income left. In Delhi, we were not getting any help and it was a daily struggle to get a single meal. And so, we decided to return back home in our rickshaw as we cannot pay for our ticket to the government,” Mandal tells India Today.
He adds: “We have no money now. After travelling for six days, we reached Unnao. We are tired but our journey will continue.”
With Mandal is Subodh Kumar, who belongs to Madhepura in Bihar.
“It is clear that nobody cares about poor labourers and workers who have to struggle every single day to earn a living. We are left with no money and our families are also dependent on us,” he says.
“We don’t know whether there will be immediate employment for us in Bihar but we want to live with our family members in this time of crisis. We still have to travel over 800 kms to reach home on the rickshaw cart which may take another seven days but at least some arrangement for food can be made there,” Subodh Kumar says.
Another migrant Lalit Kumar, who is also riding a rickshaw cart to his home in Bihar, says, “Our landlord didn’t allow us to stay in our rented room because we couldn’t pay him rent. Somehow we will manage to reach home on the rickshaw but I would urge the Bihar government to provide us employment because we don’t want to leave our state now for work. On our way from Delhi to the Kanpur-Lucknow highway, we did not get any help from the government. Only social workers provided us food and water midway.”