Amid India’s lockdown, tens of thousands of poor migrant workers continue to undertake long difficult journeys back to their villages. Indians have taken to Twitter once again, to share videos and photos, highlighting their plight as these poor labourers struggle for food, basic necessities and means of transport.
One such video that went viral today, was that of an 11-year-old migrant worker, cycling a rickshaw cart while his tired parents rest behind. He does so to help his father, who gets exhausted after cycling for long distances.
In the video, the boy, Tavare Alam says they are travelling from Varansi in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, to their home in the Arariya district in Bihar. That is a distance of nearly 550kms.
Upon being asked why they left Varansi, the family said, they had no food or means of income, due to the lockdown. Alam said that his father is the one who usually cycles the cart, but, when he gets tired, Alam gives his father a break and takes it up on himself to ride the rickshaw during the time.
The video that was shared by many, had Indian Twitter users discussing why the country's leaders were not doing enough for the poor.
Tweep @LyngdohNoel asked: "Isn't there an ounce of humanity left? We are failing as a nation. We might recover from COVID-19, our economy will recover but there is no recovering from this. In this hard time the government is basically saying 'Everyman for himself'!"
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Migrant Workers given rotten, maggot-infested rice in Mangaluru
In a shocking incident that took place in the Indian state of Karnataka, migrant workers in Mangaluru were given rotten rice, unfit for human consumption. A video of this went viral on Twitter, on May 14.
Apparently, the Labour Department in the state had distributed the rice a few days ago after migrant workers demanded authorities to arrange for transportion to take them to their homes in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, according to an article by newindianexpress.com.
Hundreds of 5kg rice bags were distributed to the workers in an attempt to pacify the workers. They were told that transport will also be arranged soon.
However, the labourers were in for a shock and disgust when they returned to their shelters and opened the rice bags to find maggots.
Twitter @jamewils posted: “When India's hapless poor were became the sacrificial lambs for the greater common good! Yep, we let them starve, walk, die on the roads and railway tracks! Their blistered foot and empty stomachs did not shake no one's conscience! Eugenics is a better policy in pandemic!”
Reportedly, in March, the Indian government had promised that help would reach the poor labourers. India's finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, had then announced more than $22 billion (over Dh80 billion) as coronavirus relief money. The government's top priority, she said is "for food to reach the poorest of the poor, and money to reach in the hands of those who need it immediately".
But, economists and analysts said that amount was not enough considering India’s estimated 100 million internal migrants. Indian news reports say, many didn’t receive any of the promised relief.
India’s lockdown will continue through May 17, and the government has hinted at reopening of the economy, gradually.