A Story of The Worst Hardships of Migrant Workers During Lockdown

Map of India Showing Location where Migrant Workers Faced Hardships During Lockdown
Map of India depicting location where the migrant workers faced problems during coronavirus lockdown

According to the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, “When a person is enumerated in the census at a different place than his or her place of birth, she or he is considered a migrant.” During the lockdown in the fight against COVID-19, human woes are channelling their way out, the worst being the story of migrant workers who left their birthplaces to seek opportunities and now, they have merely transitioned into being internationally displaced citizens who are moving away from their places of occupation to their villages.

Lockdown 4.0 begins

The country has been observing nationwide lockdown after lockdown. This period has forced the migrant labourers to move to their native states due to lack of job and money. But a large number of underprivileged citizens of the country are facing hardships amid shut down of public transportation. Hundreds of thousands of them have left their homes for a long journey after the announcement of the first lockdown. Unfortunately, some people died during the on-foot long journey.

People gathered at the railway station

When the first lockdown was about to end, a mass of people flooded at Mumbai’s Bandra West Railway Station with a hope to catch trains and reach their native places. Those who gathered at the station were mostly daily wagers, they turned jobless since the first lockdown. In the end, the police had to intervene and disperse the large crowd.

The accidental death of migrant workers

Several workers have lost their lives due to accidents, lack of transportation, financial crisis, starvation, and so on. In the recent incident in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district at least 24 such persons were killed and left many people injured. The accident took place when a truck rammed into a DCM lorry in the wee hours on Saturday.

All the workers were going to their native villages and towns. The injured were rushed to the PGI Saifai for treatment while those who got minor injuries are getting treatment in a local hospital in Auraiya.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has taken note of the unfortunate incident in Auraiya and has expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the labourers who lost their lives.

Bus ran over workers

A couple of days ago, six migrant workers were killed at Muzaffarnagar when a UP government bus ran over them on a highway. Most of them were on the way to Bihar from Punjab in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown. Several minor accidents have occurred at various places during the lockdown.

Aurangabad train tragedy

Sixteen migrant workers were killed when a freight train ran over them in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district on May 8. They were returning to their home state Madya Pradesh on foot. The incident occurred in the early hours that time they were sleeping on the track.

Migrant workforce backbone of the Indian economy

The migrant workforce is the backbone of our economic development. The Indian economy has been increasing rapidly worldwide. The country is one of the largest producers of grains, milk, and so on. Despite this, India’s rank is 102 in the list of 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index in 2019. During the lockdown period, hunger and malnutrition cases have emerged. But many of us are not ready to accept the ground-level reality of the country in the lockdown period. The overall condition of the internally displaced citizens of the country is turning severe day by day. The extension of lockdown is not going to solve their issues.

Here is the list of several deaths that took place in the country amid COVID-19 lockdown as on May 14, 2020

Reason Number of Deaths
Starvation and financial crisis 58
Exhaustion (walking, standing in queues) 29
Police brutality or state violence 12
Lack of medical care and attention to vulnerable groups (elderly or patients) 42
Suicides due to fear of infection, loneliness, and lack of freedom of movement 91
Alcohol withdrawal-related deaths and suicides 46
Road or train accidents due to walking/migration 89
Death by crimes associated with lockdown (not communal) 14
Unclassified (unable to categorise, need more details) 43

Distribution of foods

Central and state governments are trying their best to provide food to daily wagers. Many NGOs and some individuals are working hard to distribute food to migrant workers and their families. Kerala and some other states had distributed cooked food, which is appreciable. Policemen were also helping in the distribution of food at the doorstep of the needy people. But most people are deprived of food regularly.

56 million migrant workers in India

It is estimated that there are more than 56 million migrant workers are found in India. The bulk of them works in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, and other places for their livelihood. They play a major role in the country’s economic development.

Those who work in the construction industry have to move from project to project and labour camp to labour camp. They don’t have proper rooms to live in. They run from pillar to post to earn a small amount of money.

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