Hyderabad: Immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 3, hundreds of migrant labourers packed their bags, and along with children and women, embarked on a 900-km journey on foot from the city to reach destinations in northern Andhra Pradesh.
The labourers said the TRS government has not provided any groceries or money to them as promised. The journey by foot exposed weak surveillance by the Telangana state police because the migrants from AP had a hassle-free start to their journey from Marredpally, passing at least four police check posts on their way.
As many as 60 migrant labourers, residing in Valmiki Nagar, BJR Colony, Sanjay Gandhi Nagar, Gautham Nagar, Hanumanpet and others packed their bags in advance as they waited to watch Modi’s address on their mobile phones. They were possibly hoping that the lockdown would be lifted but instead got a shock with the news of the extension. However, unfazed, workers and their families decided to start a journey on foot to reach their destinations.
Their destinations include Palasa, Tekkali, Nandigam and other adjoining villages in Srikakulam district, which is one of the outlier districts that has not had even a single case of Covid-19 till date.
“Our hopes were dashed after Modi’s address. We hoped that train and buses services would resume. But to our shock, the lockdown has been extended till May 3. We are already jobless since 21 days. We cannot survive for another three weeks. Our parents and families have been awaiting for us to return,” said Kanta Rao.
He said that despite claims by Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and his government, none of them have been given any rations or relief amount for the last 21 days. Several individual donors have been giving them something to eat or cook, on a regular basis, helping them to survive the bleak lockdown.
Rao said that authorities have collected their Aadhar details, current residential address and bank account details. “We have been waiting for money since 10 days. No one from the government visited our place after that. We faced discrimination by a few officials and individuals, who said that leftover ration and money will be distributed to us since we hail from Andhra,” a teary-eyed migrant labour said.
“We are not beggars. We came to Hyderabad to work and earn money with self-respect. We feel ashamed in taking donations. I personally feel like committing suicide when donors came to distribute cooked rice and clicked a picture with my family,” said Bramhaji.
Few labourers, who were happy with food donations, said that they need money to pay rent and miscellaneous expenses.
“Almost all of us have been thrown out of our homes by landlords for not paying rents. No one came to our rescue. The builder said that he cannot pay since he has already suffering loses. We will stay if government gives Rs 1,000 per head, as it would useful to rent a house and survive the lockdown period,” said K. Suryanarayana.
He said that 1,500 persons have already left for Srikakulam during the lockdown and another 1,000 odd people residing in Moosapet and Marrepally will leave in near future, despite police surveillance.
Numerous people started for their journey, some even to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh via Srikakulam. The people were stopped finally near a check post in Begumpet.
By the time the police got alerted, the migrant labourers group had crossed check posts at Sangeet Junction, Tarnaka junction and Hubsiguda junction. Police and officials rushed to the spot and convinced the labourers to stay back, on the promise of supply essentials, shelter and money.
In the meanwhile, a heated confrontation took place between police and a Telangana Rashtra Samithi MLA who rushed the spot for not providing relief measures promised by the government. However, after about an hour of arguments, the labourers agreed to stay, on condition that the government would clear their house rent dues and provide essentials till the lockdown period lasts.