A sobbing child migrant worker stranded in Delhi without shelter, job and a way back home — is only one among lakhs of his peers

A child migrant worker crying because he can't go back home but has no place to stay in the Delhi with Police threatening him with violence if the doesn't get off the street yesterday, March 25Screenshot/MukeshMukeshS/NDTV
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to people to stay indoors for 21 days, he was talking to people who have homes. The country however is full of people who have no homes, no savings, and no way to stock rations.

Migrant workers stranded at the Delhi-Ghaziabad trying to head home during the Coronavirus lock downBCCL

The worst affected are migrant workers who are stranded, homeless, and hungry — who do not fear Coronavirus but starvation. One such heartbreaking story is that of a 15-year old construction worker in Delhi was seen sobbing since he doesn’t have a way to get back home. He told NDTV that he has been roaming the streets for three days with the police threatening to beat him up if he didn’t have a place to go.

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He’s only one among hundreds of thousands of workers in the unorganised sector that travel to urban cities looking for work. Over 90% of India’s unorganised sector are migrant workers where no health nor social benefits exist. The wages are low and many don’t have savings to fall back on. As public transportation is closed, going back home is not an option either.

Migrant workers make their way home on footBCCL

Some workers choose to walk home
In a travesty similar to Biblical lore, some labourers decided to go back home, on foot. In Gujarat, over 2,000 daily wage workers chose to walk all the way home to Rajasthan — many without food or water, according to the Indian Express. It took the group of men, women and children 14 hours to reach Dungarpur Village, the nearest border.

Workers walking home from Gujarat to RajasthanDeccan Herald

On being stopped by the border authorities, some were loaded onto trucks and others had to walk another two hours to the bus station in hopes that one will take them home.

In Northern India, migrant workers from Nepal are stranded at the border as per Aljazeera.

Workers in Ahmedabad packed up and migrating out of the city during the Coronavirus lock downBCCL

Help for the poor
In Delhi, homeless shelters are overrun and migrant workers have no choice but to stay within the city with borders sealed. Most of these workers are from remote villages, many all the way in Bihar over 1,000 kilometers away, where walking home isn’t an option.

Homeless migrant workers forced to sleep at railways station in Chennai during the Coroanvirus lock downBCCL

States like Uttar Pradesh and Kerala announced small amounts of monetary assistance to help the vulnerable sections of society tide through the lockdown.

Migrant workers in Kerala line up for essential suppliesBCCL

However, India’s welfare programmes are far from adequate. The added stress of the lockdown is only compounded by the limited resources. Even though the fiscal situation is tight, experts like Raghuram Rajan and P Chidambaram recommend putting cash in the hands of those who need it most after addressing healthcare concerns.

See also:

Here's how a 21-day lockdown might help break the Covid-19 chain

A whole lot of doctors reportedly forced to reuse same mask for a week are crying for support

Here’s what you can access during the 21-day lockdown across India

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