Baby feet
Picture for illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Stock image

As India’s lockdown continues, millions of poor migrant workers, men, women and children, are still walking long distances to reach their homes in remote areas. Indian Twitter users are sharing news reports, trying to bring the government’s attention to the fact that many of them are in dire need of medical attention.

Forced to deliver on the roadside

One such story that went viral today, is about a pregnant migrant worker who was walking back to her village in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, from Maharashtra, delivered a child on the way. Reportedly, after giving birth, she rested for two hours and resumed her journey.

Indian news agency ANI reported that the pregnant migrant worker and her husband started walking from Nashik in Maharashtra towards their home in Satna of Madhya Pradesh. The woman experienced labour pains on Tuesday during her long walk to Satna. Her husband said: "After she gave birth we rested for two hours then we walked for at least 150 km."

The couple were found by security officials when the group reached Bijasan check post on Saturday, and were sent for medical examination.

The new mother told Inspector VS Parihar of Sendhwa police station that she said her family had walked 210 kilometres and that the women in the group helped in the delivery that took place by the side of a road.

"We have arranged for a bus to take the woman, her children, including the newborn, and her husband to their native village," the police official added.

Indian Twitter users also shared another similar case, from the state of Chhattisgarh, where a pregnant migrant worker delivered a baby by the roadside in Telangana's Medak district.

The incident occurred last week at Japthi Shivanur village when the woman named Anitha Bai developed labour pains, while walking with a group of people. With no vehicle available to shift her to the hospital, the women accompanying her helped her deliver the baby by the roadside.

Bringing to light, the fact, that there were many other such cases across the country, tweep @The_Deshbhakt1 posted: “Ramabai, seven months pregnant migrant died in pickup truck. Shakuntala, a migrant worker walked 70 km, give birth on the road and walk 160 km with baby. Dalilata, a mirgant worker gave birth on the highway. Because the privileged, government and media turn a blind eye on them.”

Exhausted migrant worker dies after travelling 1,500kms

Yesterday, a migrant worker who walked and hitch-hiked over 1,500 kilometres from Mumbai to his home in Uttar Pradesh died of exhaustion, just when he reached his hometown, Khalilabad.

According to a news report by “Ram Kripal, 65, who worked as a daily wage labourer in Mumbai, had set off for home on foot after he was stranded at his workplace due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, officials said.”

District Magistrate Ravish Kumar Gupta said Kripal fell down near the hospital gate while he was being taken for a medical check-up under police supervision. By the time doctors examined him, he had breathed his last.

Many have taken to Twitter again, to urge the country’s government to take serious and fast steps to address the issues that millions of poor migrant workers across the country were facing as a result of the sudden COVID-19 lockdown.

While many have criticised the government for not considering the condition of millions of poor people who would get stranded without jobs, many others have said, that even after more than a month, there was barely any solid action taken. Some asked for clarifications about how the money donated to the PMCares fund was being used to help the poor.

Tweep @VidushiJaya posted: “That's so ridiculous. People have donated money and pregnant migrant worker is giving birth on the street and walking again. Of course, the government should give details about the audit rather it is removing CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India), from the picture completely and diluting laws in the name of reform.

Injured migrant worker walks back home

Tweep @DuttsSwarnava shared a video report about Ramdas, a migrant labourer, who was recently hit by a car on his way home, the injured migrant worker is still on the road. Requesting officials to help, the tweep posted: “It's very pathetic situation God help them please. Our beloved government open your eyes try to figure out something for them, only a good speech is not enough.”

Indian government urged to take action

Though the Indian government has arranged for trains to ferry migrants back to their villages, and promised some money as relief to the poor, many have not received any help at all.

Also read: Modi announces $265 billion package to boost aid to India’s economy

Tagging Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, activist @Prksh_Ambedkar posted: “PM Modi's #Lockdown4 20 lakhs package for organised middle class but nothing for unorganised labourers and the migrant class. The attitude reflected in the third phase… ignoring the economically weaker classes continues even in the fourth phase.”

Public Interest Lawyer and activist @pbhushan1 tweeted: “Modi made ridiculous claims of India becoming a superpower due to Covid-19 crisis, tall promises about 20LCr package (not even 10 per cent of earlier package has reached people), but not a word for the migrant labourers, whom his cruel lockdown has left destitute, and forced to walk back!”

India’s lockdown will continue through May 17, and the government has hinted at reopening of the economy, gradually.