At ease now, would have regretted had we stayed back, say migrants after reaching homeUpdated: Mar 30, 2020 22:54 IST
It took Amjad Ali and his family over 30 hours to reach his village Aurangabad in Sitapur district—a journey that usually takes 12 hours from Noida. However, while the family is isolating itself in the village, Ali said that despite the tedious journey and uncertainty of the return of normalcy, they are now at ease with the assurance of sustenance and being at home.
“Back in the city, we had many fears, There was a sense of panic. There was no work, no earning and given the uncertainty of how long the lockdown would stretch, we had limited cash to sustain ourselves. But above all that, we were afraid of dying away from home. Now, we are among our own, there is the assurance of sustenance and even if we die of this virus I know I will be buried in my village amid my own,” Ali said on the phone.
Sixty-two-year-old Amjad Ali, who runs a laundry shop near Sector 77 in Noida, left for home on Saturday morning along with his two sons and a daughter, all in their twenties, and wife.
The family started its journey on Saturday morning by walking towards the Anand Vihar bus terminal. By Saturday afternoon, they managed to board a bus to Sitapur, reaching there around 3am Sunday. Since they still had a 50km-long journey left, they waited for conveyance in Sitapur to reach their next stop—the temple town of Naimisharanya, 42km from Sitapur city. However, in the absence of a bus or any other conveyance, Ali and his family had no other option but to walk further till Naimisharanya. After a brief stop for a medical check-up by the health department, they found a fellow villager’s vegetable delivery van which dropped them home at Aurangabad about seven kilometres from there. They reached their village, situated about 120 kilometres from the state capital Lucknow, by Sunday evening.
“We were scanned once at Anand Vihar, but no one stopped us at Sitapur. We waited for a bus or jeep; there were none, so we started walking again. After reaching Naimisharanya, some administrative officials at the city gates stopped us, scanned us again, registered our names and let us go. Upon reaching the village, the village pradhan asked us to isolate ourselves, and not socialise. Later, health officials came and scanned us again,” Talib, Ali’s older son, who said he borrowed ₹3,000 for the journey from a Noida contractor under whom he had worked earlier, said.
Ali added that apart from the cheap cost of living back home, the upcoming harvest was another reason to leave the city.
“A litre of milk costs ₹65 in Noida against ₹40 here, five kg of atta costs over ₹175 while it’s ₹120 here, the cost of vegetables is extremely cheap, besides we can get groceries on credit, and there are villagers to help. We have a small patch of a farm which is on contract. The harvest of wheat is due in two weeks, so we can help on our fields as well,” Ali said.
The family’s panic dissolved quickly after villagers came forward to help even before they could unlock their house.
“We arranged about 50kg of flour, pulses, vegetables, oil, milk and other essential food items for the family after they arrived. Life will soon come to normal, but at such a perilous time, we take care of each other in this village,” Umesh Chandra Pandey, a fellow villager and farmer, said on the phone.
Fifty-five-year-old Santosh Shukla, a resident of Sathra village in Hardoi, had a more tiring journey that started on Friday morning, a day before the mass migration began. Shukla, along with his 50-year-old wife and a few relatives walked for 60km to reach Bulandshahr from their Noida residence at Chhijarsi village, Sector 63. They first reached Dadri, from where they walked for hours after failing to get a conveyance only to reach Bulandshahr by the evening.
Luckily for them, they kept getting buses from Bulandshahr. The family made the more than 30-hour-long journey by changing three buses—Bulandshahr to Kannauj, Kannauj city to Bilgram town in Hardoi district, and from Bilgram, about 30km to Sathra. The family had to stop for a medical check-up at the town of Bilgram before they getting the green signal to enter their village; they were instructed to isolate themselves. They reached Sathra late Saturday night.
However, while hundreds of migrant workers left the national capital region due to lack of sustenance, money or rent, Shukla, who owns two auto-rickshaws in Noida and has a house of his own, left to simply be with the rest of his family.
“Others in our neighbourhood were leaving, we thought this was our chance. There were rumours that the lockdown may extend longer. So we decided to go back to our village to be among our people. We didn’t have issues in Noida, but home is home,” Shukla said on the phone.